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SUICIDE AND MENTAL HEALTH A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE

Author: Sujatha.K, I year BA.,LL.B from

Chennai Dr Ambedkar Govt Law College, Pudupakkam

Co-author: Devadarshini. S, I year BA.,LL.B from Chennai Dr Ambedkar Govt Law College, Pudupakkam.


Introduction

Every Human in a country has the Right to Live and enjoy their freedom,but when life bitters they even have the right to die . Suicide is a serious problem in the society. India being the youngest and most developing nation still couldn't satisfy the needs of so many people who are suffering on a daily basis. According to a survey conducted by a leading newspaper approximately 28 people commits suicide in a day. According to NCRB reports approximately 10,159 students committed suicide in 2018, 9905 in 2017 and 9,478 in 2016. Suicide rate is increasing with a pace but nobody to control it. The state has the responsibility to provide the citizens by fulfilling their need to stop these suicide but rather it criminalise suicide. The citizens don't have the suicidal Rights .

Before knowing about suicidal Right we have to know about what is meant by Suicide? Suicide is a combination of two words "sui "meaning self and "cide" meaning killing, In short, a person committing suicide, must commit by themself, irrespective of the means employed by him in achieving his object of killing himself/herself. According to Oxford Dictionary Suicide means the act of killing yourself deliberately.


Suicide - in legal perspective

Attempt to commit suicide is no more a crime under section 309 of IPC in India. Article 21 of the constitution states that to quote "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law". Article 21 does talk about the right to life but no article talks about "Right to die".


The Section 309 of IPC states,

"Attempt to commit suicide.—Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall he punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year 1[or with fine, or with both]."


The right to die is a concept based on the opinion that human beings are entitled to end their life or undergo voluntary euthanasia. Possession of this right is often understood that a person with a terminal illness, incurable pain, or without the will to continue living, should be allowed to end their own life, use assisted suicide, or to decline life-prolonging treatment. The question of who, if anyone, may be empowered to make this decision is often the subject of debate. The IPC was defined by British to administer British India by 1860 though the British itself decriminalization the sucide in 1961but it takes India took many decades to decriminalization it with mental care act 2017. It ensures that no person should be criminalised if the suicide is because of severe stress.


The Mental health Care Act, 2017 aims to provide mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and ensure these persons have the right to live a life with dignity by not being discriminated against or harassed. This is an important piece of legislation that has the potential to change the way mental health is perceived in India. There are so many factors which can combinally lead a person to take their own life and there is nothing more horrifying than taking your own life and killing yourself. Even experts can't fully understand the reasons why some people do this but there are some life circumstances and mental health issues which play a vital role . That includes Depression, Hopelessness,Bipolar disorder,Substance use disorder, Psychosis.


Mental Healthcare Act,2017 Section 2 defines

The Act defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, and mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The mental health is the most prevalent cause of suicide


But does not include mental retardation, which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of a person’s mind, especially characterized by sub-normality of intelligence.


As per the new act of 2017 in any attempted suicide case government will have to provide rehabilitation, care, therapy and treatment to the person who was trying to commit suicide to reduce the risk of recurrence of the same incident.The cost of rehabilitation and treatment would be free for the person in any government funded mental health institution.



REHABILITATION OF SUICIDE

The government of india had made its work on post vention. Loss is precluded and advanced for therapy and supporting their versatile limits before mediating sorrow and any mental issues.

Postvention is likewise given to limit the danger of imitative or copycat suicides; however there is an absence of proof based standard convention. Be that as it may, the overall objective of the emotional wellness expert is to diminish the probability of others relating to the self-destructive conduct of the perished as an adapting methodology in managing difficulty.



COMPARITIVE LAW IN SUICIDE

Nevertheless, some countries continue to treat attempting to commit suicide as a criminal offense. Such countries are mainly from two regions: North African and South Asian regions. In the former, Ghana (Criminal Code of Ghana, Citation1960), Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda (Penal Code of Rwanda, Citation2018), Tanzania, Uganda (Penal Code Act, Citation1950), etc. currently criminalize non-fatal suicidal behavior. In the latter, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia Pakistan, and Singapore (Singapore Penal Code, Citation2008), etc. continue to criminalize suicidal attempts. North Korea provides an extreme instance wherein the law criminalizes the family members and relatives of the suicide victim as a form of collective punishment for the act of suicide.Ireland, two and a half-decade ago, an attempt to commit suicide has been decriminalized. But self-harm continues to be considered not as a form of “attempted suicide.” Under the Roman-Dutch law, suicide and its attempt are not punishable. Some of the States of the US including Alabama, South Carolina, and Oregon continue to penalize persons involved in “suicide pacts,” persons who aid and/or abet; and for insurance, purposes intended to defeat the provisions of law. In South Asia, only a few countries including Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand do not penalize attempts to commit suicide. Compared to continental Europe and the Scandinavian region, in countries that were influenced by the British common law, decriminalization of suicidal attempts took place relatively late.



PREVENTION OF SUICIDE

"IT is not weak to seek help!"

The awareness on mental health is spreading as soothing breeze nowadays. Recently September 10 was observed as mental health day .Many times suicide is preventable we just need to do the general efforts like social support and social engagement. Medication and counseling is also very helpful.

Few organizations which are helping people in fighting these situations and prevent the preventable.


Roshni:

Is an Hyderabad based NGO which is helping people with mental health issues and it is a member of befrienders worldwide which is an international organization working recognized by united nations.


Sneha India foundation:

This organization provides suicide crisis helpline numbers and provides emotional support to those who are in need.


ICALL:

ICALL works under Tata Institute of Social Sciences and provides emotional support to those who are suffering from psychological distress.



ANALYSIS

"We can say that attempt to suicide has been decriminalised for all practical purposes. Section 309 exists because it will require an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to remove it from the statute books," Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director of Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, It is unhuman and unconstitutional to penalize and punished a survivor of suicide they went through a lot of mental stress and permanent scar in their mind.The state should provide proper healthcare and Rehabilitation rather than punishment to all kind of suicide. The state should provide facilitie of a psychologist in every educational institutions to create awareness among students.


Reference

Statute

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860

  2. Mental health Care Act 2017

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