Pakistan’s president Arif Alvi’s office announced that the government amended on Friday a section of the country’s criminal law to repeal a colonial-era legislation against suicide.
It was reportedly introduced by the secular Pakistan People’s Party, and was approved by the parliament’s upper house, or Senate, three months ago.
Under the previous Pakistani legislation, attempted suicide was punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine, or both.
However, the tides are turning and a close aide of Pakistani prime minister Shahbaz Sharif welcomed the amendment and said that each and every person in distress, considering an extreme measure such as taking one’s own life, must be helped and saved.
Suicide is still a crime in some countries and though many nations have abolished laws against it, there is still stigma that surrounds it.
Globally, close to 800,000 people die from suicide every year.
That’s one person every 40 seconds. Due to the stigma associated with suicide – and the fact that it is illegal in some countries – this figure is also likely to be an underestimate, with some suicides being classified as unintentional injuries.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.
Additional reporting by agencies