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PUBLISHED: Oct 11, 2015 10:59pm

Suicide cases in Malaysia could increase, warns psychiatrist

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AZIZI SUNIP By:
Azizi Sunip

University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) consultant psychiatrist Dr Muhamad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari says while suicide cases in the country were not at a 'worrying level', precautions were still needed. Statistics show that 12% of Malaysians, aged between 18 and 60, suffer mental health problems.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11, 2015:

“I am neither crazy nor insane, but because of family problems and life pressures, I tried to commit suicide many times.”

This was  a confession by Alexander (not his real name), 25, who is now  seeking psychiatric treatment at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL).

He told The Rakyat Post that the emotional stress stemming from his parents’ divorce saw him attempt to end his life.

He said the emotional stress from his parents’ divorce did not allow him to think. He just wanted to die by drinking detergent.

“This is not the first time I tried to kill myself. When I was 20, my father married another woman and my mother moved to Shah Alam. I felt emotional stress because I was treated like a stranger at home.”

Speaking of his latest attempt, Alexander said he was rushed to the hospital after slashing his wrist with a sharp object, but he was saved because he arrived at the hospital quickly.

University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) consultant psychiatrist Dr Muhamad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari said in the context of Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries, suicide cases were far fewer compared with Western countries.

He said according to records held by the National Suicide Registry for 2012, suicide cases in the country accounted for 1.3 deaths for every 100,000 people.

He admitted that while the suicide rate in the country was not at a worrying level, he cautioned that it could increase as the nation inched closer to 2020, due to the current lifestyle.

“We need to take precautions.”

Dr Muhamad Muhsin said statistics by the National Health and Morbidity Survey showed that 12% of Malaysians, aged between 18 and 60, suffered mental health problems.

Statistics by World Health Organisation (WHO) for 2012 recorded 800,000 suicides worldwide for every 40 seconds.

“In the last 20 years, seven to 12 people for every 100,000 Malaysians died from suicide.

“For the same period in Singapore, the ratio was 15 to 20 for every 100,000.”

Dr Muhamad Muhsin went on to explain that suicidal tendencies among youths, aged  between 12 and 20, usually stemmed from academic problems, including being pressured to do well.

To combat suicide, he said close family members and friends could help because one does not commit suicide abruptly.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with World Health Day yesterday, Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram) said it would raise awareness about  mental illness, by running several programmes.

Ikram president Dr Mohd Parid Sheikh Ahmad said the organisation would look into the perspective of psychiatry, psychology and counselling through programmes related to family, teenagers, children, laws, public service and social work.

“Ikram always welcomes cooperation with those who are experts in the area of mental health. Ikram will continue efforts to work with professionals and community activists to create a healthy community physically, mentally and spiritually.”

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