I’m hearing increasing reports of suicides due to the financial crunch.
In Malaysia police are considering arresting people who attempt suicide.
Suicide is deeply taboo in Malaysia. I was told that doctors might record a death as “natural causes” to spare a family the shame associated with suicide.
Taking your own life is a sin for Muslims. Islamic law expert Professor Ruzman Nor showed me where it is mentioned in the Koran.
“Allah says ‘Oh yea who believe do not kill yourself for truly Allah has been to you most merciful. If any do that in rancour and injustice soon shall we cast him into the fire.’”
Arrests are rare but two cases have come to court in recent years. Mr Nor thinks that prison is an appropriate way to deal with some cases.
“This law is suitable for our culture. When someone has been jailed for attempting suicide, during confinement in jail there will be counselling to make them realise that what they have done is not right.”
Richard is a “befriender”. The charity he works for operates a 24-hour helpline from a building just outside Kuala Lumpur, for anyone who wants to talk.
The Befrienders estimate that for every suicide in Malaysia there are 20 attempts. They take calls from people of every race and religion.
The last time the Befrienders advertised, they could not cope with the jump in calls.
“We feel that prosecution and punishment are not the approach,” said the head of the organisation, S Gangadara Vadivel.