Press Release by NACC Malaysia on SUICIDE PREVENTION
(12 June 2012)
We refer to the recent statement by the Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai on the rising suicide rate in Malaysia as reported in the national newspapers on 5 June 2012 and the relevant articles in the NST (Sunday Spotlight dated 10 June 2012) and the Star (Focus dated 3 June and 10 June 2012) on imparting coping skills to our youths.
In any programme of suicide prevention, education is obviously essential. Equipping youths with coping skills including skills of critical thinking to analyse troubling personal situations from a variety of perspectives and a sense of humour to laugh at oneself and life's problems will certainly improve their coping abilities. However, this approach alone is insufficient. We are also of the view that even the eight strategies of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan announced by the Health Minister did not go far enough.
This is because our thinking affects our emotions and behaviours, and suicide prevention programmes to be more effective must bring about a transformation in the attitudes and perspectives of our youths towards life overall. For instance, it is crucial that youths are taught to acknowledge the universal truth that life is complex and often unfair, and that everyone will inevitably go through extreme experiences of disappointments and sorrow in one time or another. With the right attitudes and perspectives, these adverse experiences will be perceived as not so insurmountable that suicide is considered the best and only way out but in fact they are opportunities for self-examination and growth.
Above all, a person with suicidal ideation is at the boundary between life and death, between meaning and absurdity and between hope and despair. These boundaries involve issues of a spiritual nature and inculcating core spiritual values to the youths in the form of education can give them the right attitudes and perspectives over these boundaries.
First, youths must be taught to accept that there is a transcendent reality that is bigger that the mundane existence of life and that in times of trouble, they can call upon their spiritual resource for comfort and help.
Second, youths must be taught to accept a worldview that there is a higher intelligence, purpose or order that give meaning and reality to the events and relationships in their lives. So if we believe that there is a divinely ordained sovereignty over all of us, then we do not have complete control over our lives and when we go through extremely bad experiences, our response can be one of acceptance and our response is then how we may emerge a better person out of such adverse experiences.
Third, youths inculcated with core spiritual values will have a community in which their transcendent reality and worldviews are validated. In other words, youths in these communities are not alone and mutual support and encouragement through difficult times are readily available to them.
These core spiritual beliefs cut across all religions and once personally understood and embraced, they give everybody the inner strength to ride through the worst crises in life. Only then are we attending to suicide prevention at the root repertoire of human behaviour, the nature of which is not just inherently psychological but spiritual as well.
P.S. The National Association of Christian Counsellors was registered in 2011 as a national society and presently we have over 300 members across different church denominations throughout Malaysia.