[EXCLUSIVE] Over 2,000 suicide cases in the past four years (NSTTV)

Aliza Shah

POLICE statistics show that there were more than 500 cases of people committing suicide or attempting suicide every year for the past four years.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (investigation/legal) deputy director Datuk Mohd Zakaria Ahmad said 1,696 people died committing suicide, while 625 failed to end their lives between 2014 and February this year.

Of the fatal cases, 1,282 were male while 414 were female.

Among reasons cited were stress; financial, family and relationship problems; and studies.

“We have yet to reach a worrying level that demands us to make drastic changes.

“We, however, acknowledge the issue and we have to make sure that it does not become a trend.”

Zakaria said those who attempted suicide could be arrested and investigated under Section 309 of the Penal Code.

However, of the 625 cases involving those who failed to commit suicide, only 68 cases were taken to court and charged. The rest were dropped upon consultation with the attorney-general.

“We need to look at the individual’s situation, family environment and if there is evidence or a statement.

“It is not necessary for us to charge someone even if there is an investigation paper on a case, unless there is evidence that the person has a strong desire to end his life,” he said, adding that some cases were impulsive in nature.

He said those not charged with the offence would be released, but the authorities would not refer them to psychiatrists or counsellors.

“It is not our responsibility to do so. We can call their family members and advise them to focus more on them,” he said, adding that family members played a vital role in preventing suicides. Befrienders KL saw an increase in the number of calls and emails it received last year compared with the year before.

The agency received 5,217 emails and 26,927 calls last year compared with 3,443 emails and 24,821 calls in 2016, said its publicity director, Ardy Ayadali.

“We noticed a huge increase of emails from younger people last year. In 2016, 70 per cent of those who emailed us were females, while 25 per cent were males and the remaining five per cent were unknown.

“For the age group, 18 per cent were below 19 years old, while 27 per cent were from 20 to 29 years old.”

The statistics showed that most of the callers (20 per cent) were aged between 21 and 30, followed by those below 20 (16.1 per cent). “Last year, 37.1 per cent of those who contacted us were 30 and below, and we have seen an increase in this age group over the years.” Relationship issues were cited as one of the main reasons for their problems, followed by studies or financial problem (19.3 per cent) and mental health (18.3 per cent).

He said the Befrienders would provide emotional support and listened to those with suicidal thoughts.

“Befrienders KL started in 1970 and for 48 years, we have been alleviating people’s distress and reducing the risk of suicide through emotional support and public education.

“We provide these services through our 24-hour hotlines, emails and face-to-face meetings at our centre in Petaling Jaya.

“We organise talks and forums to create awareness about suicide prevention.

“We have around 120 volunteers to ensure that our hotlines are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd