The Mental Health Care Bill 2013, that the Rajya Sabha cleared last month, will help fight the stigma associated with mental health issues in India, said doctors.
The proposed law not only decriminalises attempts to commit suicide, but also says that every citizen has the right to access good quality mental health services in public hospitals. The Lok Sabha is yet to clear it.
At present, attempt to suicide is a criminal offence and the person can be booked under Section-309 of IPC, which calls for up to one year’s imprisonment or fine.
Dr Dayal Mirchandani, a city-based psychiatrist, said, “It was a barbaric thing to put criminal charges on people who attempt suicide. Suicide is a complex issue.”
“It is sad that in many cases in the past, the police advised people who attempted suicide to say that it was an accident, instead of directing them to hospitals,” he added.
Dr Shubhangi Parker, head of psychiatry department, KEM Hospital, Parel, said that in 80% of the cases of attempted suicide, it is found that the person suffers from a severe form of depression. “Most people who attempt suicide do very well after counselling, complemented with anti-depressants,” she said.