Take suicide threats seriously: psychiatrist

PETALING JAYA - People often treat a suicide note or a a wish to commit suicide as a joke and this can reinforce a suicidal person's will to die, said a Universiti Malaya psychiatrist.

Prof Dr Mohamad Hussain Habil, who heads the university's Department of Psychological Medicine, said the friends of Form Five student Sally Lee Qian Chun did not take her seriously when she wrote about her desire to take her life on Facebook.

"Instead they treated it as a joke and even dared her to end her life.

"This further reinforced her will to die," he said.

Sally took her life by jumping from the second-floor of her school in Malacca on Tuesday.

When suicidal people express a desire to kill themselves, they are actually seeking help from those around them.

At this point, he said, parents and friends should persuade them to seek medical help and send them to hospital for treatment.

"They need to be assessed by a professional because it is quite difficult for a layman to judge whether a person is suicidal or not.

"They may look happy or may even be smiling but a clinical assessment will reveal whether the person is going through stress and if there is a history of depression," he said.

Dr Mohamad Hussain added that a suicidal person would also show other symptoms like loss of concentration, weight and appetite.

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