Punishment for attempted suicide?Posted: January 5, 2009
Excerpts from A. Asohan’s column of Dec 28:
[I]t was with a great degree of disbelief that I read the news about a 16-year-old girl being charged with attempted suicide in Kuala Terengganu. According to an English-language daily, she was “alleged to have committed the offence” on Nov 21 after a quarrel with her boyfriend. She was charged in the Court for Children earlier this month. She was unrepresented and only accompanied by her mother. The court set Jan 22 next year for mention.
Laws against suicide are an odd duck. They usually fail at any test of logic. Are they supposed to act as a deterrent?
And you can only punish those who have failed – the ones who succeed in their attempt are beyond the long arm of the law. Are these laws supposed to discourage people from contemplating suicide?
I remember reading about this case of charging a youth for attempted suicide. And I remember shaking my head in disbelief too.
I haven’t tried suicide before. Not that I remember. But I imagine that it would take a great deal of courage to attempt it. And normally, it’s that one moment that makes all the difference between taking that final plunge, or coming back to safety.
Now, imagine if we were seriously to punish ALL of those attempted suicide cases. Some of these ‘offenders’, I believe, might end up in hospitals after taking one too many pills of Panadol, or drinking one sip too much of Dettol, or cut-up wrists and what-have-you.
What message would we be sending out to the other depressed people out there?
To be quite honest, I don’t think anyone would be deterred by the impending punishment should they fail in their suicide attempt. More often than not, when someone wants to commit suicide, that person would have lost all hope of life, so why would they care?
If at all, punishing people for attempted suicide will only push them nearer to the edge of that cliff that they’re standing on. Instead of taking 12 pills of Panadol, they’ll make sure they succeed, and take 20. Instead of drinking one bottle of Dettol, they’ll now drink 5. Instead of just cutting their wrists, they’ll now cut their wrists AND jump from their window.
It’s a problem that more and more people are attempting suicide. I know, because I have a few friends who’ve tried. Fortunately, none of them have succeeded so far. Most of them have changed for the better.
But if I have a friend who DOES attempt to kill him/herself, I’ll hope that he/she doesn’t succeed, and that family and friends will be there to help him/her pull through. I hope the police will NOT arrest my friend and treat my friend like a criminal.
Laws against suicide lack compassion. And sometimes it’s compassion that keeps people from taking that final plunge to nowhere.