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PUTRAJAYA: More Malaysians are committing suicide, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said 1,000 people had taken their lives over three years.
The ratio of suicides was 1.3 to every 100,000 people aged 24 to 44 from 2007 to 2010.
“The suicide rates could be higher because these are just figures collected from post-mortems.
“We think the suicide rate in the country is under-reported,” he said after a Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council meeting yesterday.
Liow said males showed a higher suicidal tendency, accounting for 75 per cent of cases.
“Chinese have a higher suicide rate, which is 48 per cent, followed by Indians (21 per cent), Malays (13 per cent) and others (2.4 per cent).”
Among factors that lead to people committing suicide are drug abuse and mental illness.
Liow said based on last year’s National Health and Morbidity Survey, 1.7 per cent of adults had suicidal tendencies, 0.9 per cent had planned to commit suicide and 0.5 per cent had attempted suicide.
In view of this, he said, the ministry was introducing the National Strategic and Action Plan for Suicide Prevention.
“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for all ages in every country, with one million deaths per year globally.
“This action plan will seek to minimise suicide cases for the next five years.
“There are eight strategies to tackle the issue, the first being mental health promotion, starting with school children.”
Other points are early detection, treatment and referral of person at risk of suicidal behaviour, inter-agency networking and inter-sectoral collaboration, capability- and capacity building, research, monitoring and surveillance, media reporting and restricting access to lethal means.
Liow said the ministry was planning to open at least one mental health community centre in clinics in every state.
“The pilot project that the ministry introduced in Putrajaya last year received positive response and we believe that getting closer to the community works, especially in helping patients seek help.”
He said early detection was important, especially in mental health, otherwise it might lead to suicide attempts.