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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charging a minor for attempted suicide?

From NST,
16-year-old girl charged with attempted suicide
11 Dec 2008
Sean Augustin

KUALA TERENGGANU: A 16-year-old girl was charged yesterday in the Court for Children with attempting to commit suicide.
The teenager was alleged to have committed the offence at the YT Midtown Hotel rooftop on Nov 21 by attempting to jump off the building.

Prosecution was handled by Nelson Ensit. The girl, accompanied by her mother, was unrepresented. Court registrar Kahirul Anuar set bail at RM2,500 in one surety and set Jan 22 for mention. It was reported on Nov 22 that the teenager threatened to jump off the ledge of the 10-storey hotel following a quarrel with her boyfriend. This is the first in many years that anyone has been charged with attempted suicide.

The measure is being taken after a spate of suicides and attempted suicides in recent weeks prompted Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar to tell the New Straits Times that police were considering enforcing the law.

Will charging young individuals for attempted suicide reduce the number of cases in the future? I guess not. This puts the police in a very bad light as I fail to see the benefits of such a move.

Mentally disturbed or distressed individuals should be rehabilitated so as he/she can cope with similar stresses in future. Counselling or perhaps even medications can help individuals to recover from the traumatic circumstances in his/her life. Councillors in schools should be more proactive in advocating activities that can help identify individuals in dire need of help. They can also educate young minds on how best to cope with common stresses especially relationship failures.

Charging an individual in court because she attempted suicide only serves to increase the stress level for this individual who may eventually succeed in taking her own life. It is hardly an effective deterrent sentence. Similarly, many young individuals present themselves to the emergency department for drug overdoses, usually after a quarrel with their partners. Should we then charge them in court for causing unnecessary mayhem?

I suggest that the police should relook into their current mindset. Understanding the minds of such young individuals is paramount to battle rising cases of attempted suicide. Certainly charging one individual will not serve as a deterrent to future cases.


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