Materia Medica Malaysiana

November 5, 2007

Suicide data to be ready in August

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:11 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Official statistics on the incidence of suicides in the country will be published from next year.
The first data, comprising suicide cases reported this year, will be released by the National Suicide Registry Malaysia in August.
The data is being compiled by the Psychiatry and Mental Health Services, the Forensic Medicine Services, the Mental Health Registry Unit and the Clinical Research Centre.
The Accident and Emergency Departments of all major hospitals, university hospitals and the police have also been roped in to provide information on suicide cases.
The launch of the registry comes in the wake of a Health Ministry forecast that in the next 10 to 15 years, suicide will emerge as the second highest cause of death in the country after heart diseases.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health and Mental Health Registry Unit chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Abdullah said there were no accurate figures on suicides in Malaysia.
Recent estimates put the figure at between nine and 13 per 100,000 people compared with eight in the 1980s. However, health experts say the figure could be higher.
Of particular concern is the suicide rate in the Indian community in peninsular Malay- sia. It is estimated that 30 to 35 Indians in 100,000 commit or attempt suicide as against 15 Chinese and six Malays.
There are no statistics for Sabah and Sarawak or among the Orang Asli.
Dr Abdul Aziz said only confirmed and highly probable suicide cases would be put in the registry.
As such, the real figures could be higher because some suicides might be categorised as accidental death because it was taboo in some communities to spare the psychological burden on survivors or to avoid loss of life insurance payments.
“Whatever it is, there is always the question of reliability whenever suicide figures are presented or discussed. The ministry and others are aware of the gap in information about suicide and have been emphasising the need for a national surveillance system,” he told the New Straits Times.
He said the data collected by the registry would be used to identify areas that health providers should focus on.
A website, http://www.nsrm.gov.my, is being set up for this purpose.
Dr Abdul Aziz said the main causes of suicide in Malaysia were financial problems, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, childhood abuse and mental problems such as schizophrenia.
Some of the factors that triggered suicides included stress, job loss, examination woes and relationship problems.
Over the last decade, threats and harassment from loan sharks have also resulted in a number of suicides and attempted suicides.
Poisoning, hanging, jumping from high-rise buildings and inhaling carbon monoxide are among the methods used.

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