Youth suicide is a major issue in Malaysia that requires the use of public relations to reach out to the society and convey the subject and its effects. Through the use of Public relations campaigns, it is possible to educate all parties to take action to limit the stigma surrounding suicide and help our youth through support and treatment. Through past cases and campaigns, it is possible to identify the key components that would make a suicide prevention campaign more effective in Malaysia.
Suicide on its own is a severe problem faced worldwide, most particularly – Youth suicide. Based on the World Health Organization, youth suicide is rampant in Asia where the countries with large populations have high suicide rates which contribute a large portion to the number of suicides worldwide. Youth is classified as teenagers and young adults mostly aged 15 to 24 years. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among youth worldwide and is a very troubling issue. Parents, teachers, psychologists etc. from all across the globe take on the responsibility of doing whatever is in their power to prevent this tragic loss of life through guidance, support and more. Researchers continually try to understand the reasons that prompt young people to take such drastic action on their lives (Kok and Goh, 2011). The suicide rates in Malaysia have increased by 60% over the past 45 years with a fairly high suicide rate of approximately 12 per 100,000 people resulting in over 30,000 family members and friends be negatively affected by such actions (NSRM, 2009). As a result, youth suicide rates are on the rise. Research showed that around 7% of adolescents encounter suicide ideation and more than half of them actually take action. Based on the National Suicide Registry of Malaysia; the suicide rate among youths in Malaysia is estimated to be 3 in every 100,000 (The Malaysian Bar, 2008). In 2011 alone, there were an estimated total of 425 suicide cases between January and August averaging to about 60 cases per month and 2 cases per day. With the rise of such behavior, PR has an essential role in highlighting this issue and its possible solutions.
The following is a brief analysis on the macro environment surrounding the issue of youth suicide in terms of political, economic, social and technological factors. Political
In Malaysia, the government and the police force have considered enforcing a law on attempted suicide as a form of deterrence. In section 309 of the Penal Code, it is stated that anyone guilty of attempted suicide could face up to a year imprisonment or a fine or both. In the past, there has only been a single case of police enforcing it but it isn’t very common. This is because attempted suicide needs to be dealt with delicately as a crime (The Malaysian Bar, 2008). The police work closely with relevant agencies to promote rehabilitation of those who had attempted suicide but with the latest increase in suicide attempts, they feel the need to start charging people in order to deter them from doing so. This topic is highly debated as it is considered by some to be an inappropriate and uncompassionate method of preventing suicide. Individuals who attempt suicide have a mental health problem and need proper help not fines and imprisonment as a deterrent. Most individuals on the verge of suicide wouldn’t even consider such consequences that would only arise from a failed attempt (I Am Malaysian, 2009). This means only those who have failed will be punished but those who succeed are already beyond the law which makes the anti-suicide law irrelevant. Economic
With increasing rates of suicidal behavior, there is a higher demand for more psychiatrists and counselors as well as the need for the development of youth rehabilitation centers. Helplines like Befrienders Malaysia are kept busy with calls from people in need of emotional support and someone to discuss their...
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