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Mental Healthcare Act 2017 : Time to Decriminalize Attempted Suicide


Jay Asher once said, “After all, how often do we get a second chance?” If this sentence would have been so easy to understand then people might think for once before taking their life and committing suicide.

Suicide has been defined as an act of intentionally and voluntarily causing one’s own death. This has been an undebatable topic from the long back. The suicide rate in India is higher than in any other country. In India, one person commits suicide every single hour. Mental illness like stress disease, depression is the major reasons for committing suicide. To prevent this increase GOI has introduced section 3409 under the Indian penal code which criminalizes to attempt to commit suicide, it also contains punishment of one year. But the recent mental healthcare act 2017 has strictly opposed and repealed this section and has decriminalized the attempt to suicide.

Gravity of Problems

According to the recent data around 800000 lakh people in the world commits suicide and out of them, 135000 are Indians. The reason for suicide is many. It can be a family problem, career risk, relationships, but the major and the most common one is mental illness and severe depression. In this fast-moving world every person tries to achieve waterier he aims to but one single failure makes them lose everything. This is mostly in the case of adolescent groups who are quite impulsive and unbearable. Drug addiction, poverty, bankruptcy, a sudden change in economic status, and poverty are also some of the reasons for attempting suicide. All these reasons make the person mentally and emotionally sick and weak. They lose their thinking and decision making capacity and cries for help and when no solution workouts then they are left with no other options 6then suicide.

Religion and Laws

Hopefully, there is no religion in the world than provokes suicide rather all religions have traditionally condemned suicide because they believe that human life fundamentally belongs to God. In Catholic teachings St. Augustine said that he who kills himself is a homicide. Hinduism says that one who commits suicide becomes a ghost and wanders between mortals and heavenly until his actual time to death comes. Islam mentions the act due to which the persons commit suicide he repeats that act tills eternity in the fire I hell.
Keeping religion apart if we come to the Indian laws then they also try to prohibit suicide. Section 309 of IPC deals with the attempt to commit suicide. The law has kept the punishment for both the one who commits and the one who provokes this act. But the recent act of 2017 decriminalizes this act by seeking to ensure that the individuals who have attempted suicide are offered opportunities for rehabilitation from the government as opposed to being tried or punished for the attempt.

Implications of Decriminalization

As compared to the earlier act of 1987 the act of 2017 has many positive aspects. the first and foremost effect was the improvement in the case. After the repeal of this section people no longer feel the need to hide their suicidal thoughts. And they try to get proper clinical treatment without the fear of prosecution. The families and the victim feel free and focus on the care and treatment rather than ten legal proceedings. Secondly, no theses cases are registered without the medico-legal stamp on them. And the unnecessary delay and refusal of treatment by the hospital due to the fear of legal actions on them has come to an end.


A Suicide attempt is thus a multidimensional problem having legal, social, and psychological implications. Hence, teamwork is required to assess and tackle this problem. the recent steps to achieve decriminalization of suicide in India are commendable but were long overdue. Decriminalization will reduce the trauma and potential prosecution in the aftermath of a suicidal attempt. However, there is a need to improve the mental health coverage and provide a framework to deliver essential mental health services to all those who attempted suicide.


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