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Disabled man jailed for attempting to kill self amid bid to decriminalise suicide

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A magistrates' court in Terengganu yesterday sentenced a disabled man who tried to kill himself to six months in prison.

The sentence came amid efforts by Putrajaya to decriminalise suicide but changes to the law are not expected until the middle of this year.

Magistrate Nordiana Abd Aziz handed the sentence to 38-year-old Mohamad Sani Isa, who pleaded guilty under Section 309 of the Penal Code, according to Astro Awani. He was not represented by a lawyer.

The prosecution was conducted by assistant superintendent Mohd Ridhuan Mohina Din.

Section 309 states "whoever attempts to commit suicide, and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both".

Sani was charged for trying to hang himself with nylon rope from a ceiling at a house in Kuala Nerus on Dec 23 last year.

The report said Sani was depressed.

Prior to his sentence, the court had ordered him to undergo an evaluation at a psychiatric hospital in Tampoi, Johor.

His sentence will be backdated from the day of his arrest, on Dec 23.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong, in December last year, said the government has been engaging stakeholders on decriminalising suicide and hopes to introduce amendments in the Dewan Rakyat by the middle of this year.

He said the government plans to approach suicide as a mental health problem rather than a crime. 

"Before decriminalising suicide, there needs to be a suitable and effective alternative mechanism in dealing with this mental health problem.

"The mechanism is the main thing that is being studied by the Attorney-General's Chambers, based on different models in a few Commonwealth countries," he had said.

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