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arrow Annual Reports

National Suicide Registry Malaysia - Annual Report 2007

Date: 10 March 2009

About the NSRM

Until recently, Malaysia does not have official suicide rates. The National Statistics Department quoted figures as low as 1 per 100,000 suicides per year (Department of Statistics Malaysia 2003); while cross sectional research in different parts of the country suggested higher figures (Maniam 1988; Hayati, Salina et al. 2004). It is postulated that among the difficulties that had caused these discrepancies are: the degree of subjectivity in identifying a death of suicide, lack of structured data describing the ‘manner of death’ for cases of traumatic or non-natural deaths, and inconsistencies in the way terms are defined and data collected and coded. In response to this, the National Suicide Registry Malaysia was officiated in 2007 to compile the census of suicidal deaths that occur in Malaysia via its network of forensic services. It is sponsored by the Psychiatric and Mental Health Services and the Forensic Medicine Services of the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH); while the Clinical Research Centre (CRC) provides the technical expertise. In 2008, the Institute of Health Behaviour Research has come on board to spearhead a platform for further research in this area. The NSRM is managed by a Joint Technical Committee comprising of the four agencies. Meanwhile, an Advisory Committee provides governance to ensure that the NSRM stay focused on its objectives and to assure its continuing relevance and justification.

Conclusion

Suicide rates are a recognized health outcome indicator internationally (World Health Organization 2001). This project will provide information on the natural history and causation of suicide; the contributing factors most amenable to preventive efforts; and the most appropriate target population(s). This information will aid in planning and place preventive efforts on a more solid foundation (World Health Organization 2002). This registry will be able to provide both state- and national- level data.

Suicidal acts will cause medical costs which include emergency transport, medical, hospital, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical, ancillary, and related treatment costs, as well as funeral/coroner expenses for fatalities and administrative costs (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control 2002). Better and evidence-based efforts at suicide prevention may be able to reduce suicide rates in Malaysia and allow the government/families to offset these costs. Apart from that, a structured investigation into the process of identification and reporting of non-natural deaths (specifically suicide) will assist in streamlining the management of dead bodies and ascertaining the manner of death. Indirectly it will also provide a training exercise for medical officers in reporting deaths by suicide.

Although this is an early effort, certain interesting trend had emerged, namely: the higher proportion of married persons who committed suicide; male preponderance in those who are married as compared to females; the choice of lethal methods by the female suicides. We certainly hope that with better support, infrastructure and human resource training, these trends can be investigated further.

The uniqueness of NSRM lies in its multidisciplinary platform. Although this may present some communication problems, it also offers advantages in the form of pooling of resources and expertise. After all, suicide is a very complex phenomenon. Being a registry, the NSRM might not be able to provide in-depth details about the causation of suicide. However, it would certainly identify trends and form the baseline for other research in this area.

Please download the full report below...

  arrowNSRM_report 2007 (English - pdf) [1166 Kb]



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