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Malaysia’s Pathway To The Decriminalisation Of Suicides: Students’ Opinion And Discussions

Faris Durrani, Amirah Wan Usamah, Tay Yi Thong, Matthew Ooi
44 pages
December 27, 2020
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Section 309 of the Penal Code Malaysia criminalises the attempt of suicide with imprisonment of up to one year, fines, or both regardless of the reasons behind the suicide attempt. This law continues to be practised today alongside Sections 305 and 306 regarding the abetment of suicide. There have been calls to repeal this law from within the government itself, and instead recognise mental health struggles among Malaysians and its relationship with suicide. However, any formal proposal to amend the law has yet to be made public. This research, conducted through an online survey, aims to examine Malaysian tertiary students on their views of decriminalising suicide. Overall, there is no clear consensus amongst the respondents on whether suicide should be kept prohibited or legalised although they are more receptive to the concept of legalising medical-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The arguments to retain the law among respondents are generally split between fear and moral transgression whilst the argument to decriminalise is divided based on reason and the effectiveness of the law as a deterrent. Additionally, those who had a mental health diagnosis are slightly more prone to repeal the law and view this issue from a utilitarian standpoint. One constant belief amongst them however is that those who are suicidal should be helped rather than further be punished. This paper recommends repealing Penal Code 309 and decriminalise suicide attempts as part of addressing the larger issue of mental health in the country.

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