Although the parliament has already passed a law that attempts to suicide will not be treated as a crime in India, but the notification of this law has just come up, which was necessary to get it a legal entity.
The Bill separates attempt to suicide from the provisions of Indian Penal Code now. So, now these provisions cannot be enforced in case of an attempt to suicide, I was assured by the Union Health Minister.
Any person resorts to such state in a condition of extreme mental stress, which means it’s triggered by a mental problem, and hence it need not be criminalised, the Government has opined.
The law also made provisions to ban treating mentally ill children with electric shock therapy. It says that even in the case of adults, such treatment needs to be given under anaesthesia and along with muscle relaxants medicines only.
This law also says that people need to be allowed to give advance directions on the kind of treatment they would want in these cases. So that they could get a humane diagnosis with a mental illness in the future.
The law also checks on voluntary admissions in these cases and if admission is required, it will be only for a certain minimum period under the direct supervision of a trained psychiatrist.
It is guessed that given a time about less than 10 per cent of the country’s population suffers from some kind of mental illness. Only in a fraction of population, i.e. maximum two per cent, the illness is acute.
Nevertheless, the President of India has warned that the number of affected persons with mental illnesses in India is larger than the population of Japan. Therefore, the country needs to address this gap and ensure that by 2022 at least those who are suffering from critical mental diseases are properly diagnosed. Thereafter they should be provided needful access to the treatment facilities.
The Union Ministry of Health is now focusing more on increasing the number of trained psychiatrists, and psychiatric social workers in the country to provide a good level of health services in this sector.