Published: Sunday September 9, 2012 MYT 2:30:00 PM
Moves afoot to help prevent suicides, says Liow
By RUBEN SARIO
KOTA KINABALU: A comprehensive approach is being undertaken to prevent suicide amid an increasing number of such cases over the past four years,Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Sunday.
He said the number of suicide cases had been steadily increasing from 113 in 2007, 290 (2008), 328 (2009) and 425 in 2010 bringing a total of 1,156 over that period.
However, the suicide rate was still considered low at 1.3 per 100,000 population, he said after launching a gathering in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day at the Likas Sports Complex here.
In comparison, suicide rates in Hong Kong and Thailand stood at 15 and 5.6 per 100,000 population, Liow noted.
He said among the measures in tackling the situation was the drawing up of the eight-point National Strategic Action Plan that included promoting mental health, improving early detection on mental disorders and the treatment of mental disorders such as depression.
The other priority areas under the action plan were to foster collaboration among various agencies to enhance suicide prevention as well as increasing capacity-building among 'gatekeepers'' such as primary healthcare providers, teachers, counselors, fire fighters, policemen and prisons officers.
He said teachers were an increasingly important group in these efforts as children were now experiencing more stress due to their lifestyles that included playing more online games, many of which were violent in nature.
Liow also noted that the National Morbidity Survey by his ministry in 2011 showed that there was a higher risk suicidal behaviour among those aged between 16 and 24, especially females as well as those from the Indian community.
''Malaysians are now exposed to higher levels of stress which may lead to depression. These factors, together with our poor coping skills may contribute to suicidal behaviour,'' he aded.
Liow, however, noted that efforts to improve mental health care in the country were being hampered by an acute shortage of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the existing ratio of psychiatrists in the country was one to 150,000 people while the ideal figure was one to 50,000.
Liow said the lack of clinical psychologists was even more pronounced with the current ratio of one to 980,000 people while the existing figure was 1 to 35,000.
The Health Ministry had alerted medical schools in the country of this situation and asked them to produce more clinical psychology graduates, Liow added
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