The Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill seeking to decriminalise attempted suicide and providing treatment and protection to those who try to end their lives.
Under Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), both suicide and attempted suicide are currently considered criminal offences, with the latter punishable either by a jail term of up to a year, or a fine, or both.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2017 moved by Senator Karim Khawaja and already cleared by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior proposes that the survivors of suicide attempts should be provided treatment and not awarded punishment as they try to commit suicide because of chemical changes in their brain which is nothing but a disease.
The state should treat those who seek to take their own lives like a mother, the bill argues.
“A person attempts suicide only in a state of extreme frustration,” it says, demanding that the state safeguard the victims of mental illnesses and depression.
The Senate had in October last year deferred the same bill, with Chairman Raza Rabbani ruling that a decision was not possible without a definitive view of the Council of Islamic Ideology.
Chairman of the Senate standing committee Rehman Malik had then informed the house that according to the CII, there were no clear directions in the religion about the fate of survivors of suicide attempts. The criminalisation of suicidal behaviour is one of the main reasons that people do not seek help for the psychological problem that may have precipitated the act.