JAKARTA, Indonesia 

A Malaysian Muslim youth group voiced concern on Friday about rising suicides in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The President of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Force (ABIM) Muhammad Faisal bin Abdul Aziz told Anadolu Agency that the phenomenon of suicide in Malaysia shows that people are in a critical situation.

“This can be seen through several heartbreaking incidents, including the increasing number of suicides,” he said.

Police recorded 468 suicides in the first five months of 2021, climbing from an annual total of 631 in 2020 and 609 in 2019.

At least two suicide deaths occurred daily on average from 2019 to May 2020, it said.

Abdul Jalil Hassan, director of Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department (CID), said that from 2019 to May 2021, at least 281 men and 1,427 women committed suicide with 872 between 15 and 18 years old.

“By state, Johor recorded the highest number of suicides in 2019 and 2020 with 101 cases, while Selangor registered the most cases this year as of May with 117 cases,” he said.

Police noted three main reasons for suicides, including troubled family relationships, emotional pressure and financial constraints.

ABIM encouraged people to work to help each other in difficulties regardless of race and religion by supporting the “White Flag Campaign” that urges those in desperate need of food and assistance to display a white flag in front of their home as a sign they need immediate help.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Azmi Abdul Hamid, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations (MAPIM), said increased suicides cases could be a ticking time bomb that would worsen the situation in Malaysia.

“If the government does not take all these signals seriously, it is feared that the situation will become more serious,” he said in a statement.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday implored Malaysians to be more mindful and sensitive of their surroundings and look for warning signs.

Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said that some individuals are at a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues including depression, especially when under tremendous stress or when isolated from a support network of friends and family.

“Therefore, the public is urged to be more aware of family members and people around them who may display signs of depression that could lead to suicide,” he said.

Malaysia has recorded more than 765,000 coronavirus cases, including 5,327 deaths, with nearly 7,000 daily new cases.

The government imposed a total lockdown until the number of daily cases dips below 4,000.

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