Stupidest idea for suicide prevention ever.

The Malaysian police is planning to criminalise suicide by arresting those who attempt suicide. According to their twisted logic, jail is enough of a deterrent and besides, they can be counselled in jail anyway.

STUPIDEST. IDEA. EVER.

Mental health, depression, and suicide are issues that touch me deeply. I have lived with depression and anxiety for about half my life now, and I have attempted suicide before. Thankfully I have found resources and people that were able to reach out to me with compassion and kindness, and now I’m living a full happy life while managing my mental health.

I could hardly get anyone to respect me, or others with mental health issues, in school. We were all brushed off with “oh it’s just in your head” and “don’t do your exams here, you’ll just bring the pass rate down” (for what it’s worth, our school had a 100% pass rate on the SPM, even with at least 2 confirmed mental health cases taking the exam). The emails that I receive nowadays through EducateDeviate show that nothing much has changed. I still get people asking me for help, despairing that their dilemmas over university choices and their families not accepting their dreams are enough to push them over the edge.

Here are some things about depression:

  • Depression can be caused by a number of things: malfunctioning neurons and hormones, stressful situations, genetics – or some other links that are currently being researched. It’s both biological and environmental.
  • There are currently a lot of therapies, both conventional and alternative, that help with depression – medication, psychology, naturopathy, massage, acupuncture, colour therapy, sports, other things. Different things help for different people.
  • People who attempt or commit suicide usually feel like they’ve run out of options, or that they’re crying out for help. When you’re suicidal or depressed it’s extremely hard to think about other people’s reactions because you’re stuck in the brainwave of “no one cares about me anyway, I’m useless”. Jail is not a deterrent.

Here’s what helped me through my many years of ups and downs with depression:

  • Helplines like The Befrienders, who I absolutely recommend. Give them a call or email if you’re depressed and need an ear. sam@befrienders.org.my, 03 7956 8144/5.
  • The company of supportive and caring friends and family, who didn’t hold my depression against me and treated me with patience and compassion.
  • Being involved in fun, fulfilling projects that fitted my interests (a lot of my depression had to do with feeling “trapped” in situations I wasn’t fond of but felt obligated to do).
  • Medication and psychological therapy – it’s great to talk to experts about practical ways to manage the depression.
  • Breathing, meditation, flexible sports like yoga, dance, or circus – it takes your mind off the depression for the moment as you concentrate on your moves.
  • Self-care like massage, good books, a filling meal – this is something we absolutely suck in as a country, and which I’m still working on. Our culture doesn’t encourage taking care of ourselves – and yet it’s absolutely necessary for survival.

I read this article on suicide in South Korea and it saddened and worried me. So many of the factors mentioned in the article – the pressure to succeed, saving face, honour in death – are also evident in Malaysia. Yet our mental health services are almost non-existent, particularly for young people who may not have enough independence to seek out their own psychiatrist or counsellor. School counsellors may not be of much help too, if they follow the line of “suicide is a sin!” – yeah, as if that’ll help anybody.

How else can we create awareness and compassion for mental health in Malaysia? How do we help those trapped in the web of suicide and depression?

Some other pertinent links:

The suicidal need support, not punishment (Letter from T. Maniam, National rep of the International Association for Suicide Prevention)
Suicide a cry for help (letter from The Befrienders)
Hostile reception pushes Bostwanian students to the brink of suicide (hooray racism!)
Suicide rate high among ethnic Indians in Malaysia
Excerpt from “Suicide Prevention” about suicide rates in ethnic Indian communities in Malaysia

4 Responses

  1. This is ridiculous if not downright insane. The authorities here have such a warped mind that it is really not funny.

  2. Hi Tiara,
    You stated:
    When you’re suicidal or depressed it’s extremely hard to think about other people’s reactions because you’re stuck in the brainwave of “no one cares about me anyway, I’m useless”. Jail is not a deterrent.

    Of course jail isn’t a deterrent. Neither is being scolded and shunned by supposed loved ones (like friends and family) with their endless shoulds and shouldn’ts, and their never-ending “I told you so’s.”

    I can understand that many folks just can’t handle individuals with mental health issues, which in my case is bipolar of the more manic kind. Everyone seems to feel I am too intelligent to have been so uncautious about so many things in my life. They have even convinced me of what a travesty I must be. So smart, yet such a failure in all those wacky ideas that only lucky people suceed in… such as the arts (especially). I obviously lack motivation in the “real world” and cannot operate with eveness among professionals in any “serious” career.

    Well, no kidding. To me, that explains exactly my mental health diagnosis. But for all my life, ought I condemn myself to criticizing my inability to conform to what people define as normal, instead? Wow. That’s a self-imposed life sentence to remain frustrated.

    I stopped wishing to turn back time for all my “miserable” experiences. I now embrace them. Yet I still feel sad for those people who never quite understood me. I have had limited financial and social successes, only for these to succumb eventually to yet another irrational decision. No medication can completely stop crazy choices. The best it can do is slow me down to an inhuman pace. That pace is normal?? Being in a fog and practically sleep-walking? No thanks. After fifteen years of that (and still not enough “balance” to consider it to have been a great therapy) I gave up on meds.

    I do not feel harmful to others. Luckily, with my understanding of myself and the fact that the world around me reacts to situations and other people life in order to compliment their own actions, I don’t have to answer back with hostility or suicidal thoughts. I can’t take anything anyone says personally, unless I did something unlawful, which I don’t do (besides the occasional beating a red light or going over the speed limit a little).

    I think I have learned to convince myself of my own strengths and follow them without second-guessing. Life is not fair, and I accept that my endeavors aren’t always going to be seen as genius. In fact, my personality probably gets in the way a lot.

    What seems curious is how people can idolize strange individuals when they are commercialized, yet their reactions are different when it’s someone at your job or school, or in your family or living on your block.

    Thanks for the article. I’m sure I went way off topic, but I appreciate your allowing this to post.

    Best wishes,
    Ron

  3. Very nice article!

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