As we all know that life is a gift of God and no one is entitled to end that
life even if that person is the owner of that life, Suicide is a topic that is
frequently discussed in our society. There are numerous papers, books, articles,
and other information that address the subject. Suicide is a attempt of a person
to self-harm with a intent to die or to end their life. Wide Range of illnesses,
including depression, anxiety, and mental illness is the leading cause of
It is such a serious topic which need attention for mental health care
but still in India it has been criminalized under section 309 of Indian penal
code. Since 1967, the National Criminal Records Bureau (NCRB) of India has
published annual reports on suicides in various states, Delhi and union
territories. Their report showed that the suicide rate per 100,000 people
increased from 6.3 in 1978 to 8.9 in 1990.
Subsequently, the reported ratio
fluctuated, increasing between 2006 and 2011, reaching 11.25. Arya et al.6 used
data from the NCRB to calculate the age-standardized suicide rate in 2001-2013.
In the past 13 years, the male incidence rate has been approximately 14 per
100,000, while the feminine incidence has decreased from 9 to 7 per 100,000. The
NCRB reported that the entire number of suicides in India in 2015 was 133,623, a
rate of 10.6 per 100,000 people and a male to female ratio of 2.2.
Attempt to suicide - Indian scenario
The Indian criminal law which is Indian penal code was drafted in the year of
1860 under Thomas Babington Macaulay and this was enacted in British ruled India
in 1862. This law lasted in India for 150 years without any major Amendments but
now there is a need for changes and amends in the current law of Indian penal
code, just like we have abolished section 377 in India which talked about
criminalizing any carnal intercourse by men, women and animal.
Article 21 of
Indian constitution which talks about:
"No person shall be deprived of life or
personal liberty expect procedure established by law".
As Indian constitution
gives right to life and personal liberty, but suicide is a criminal offence
under section 309 of Indian penal code
Section 309 of Indian penal code contains "Whoever attempts to commit suicide
and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with
simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or
There were several questions raised on the existence of section 309 of IPC.
First, why suicide was still criminalized In India when the English law from
where we took this law has abolished it in 1960? second, every other crimes in
this category include those committed to the 'human body of another person,' and
suicidal attempt is included in the same category. The act of attempting suicide
is inferred based on intent, which is interpreted from the circumstances.
However, in many cases, the intention is unclear or ambiguous. There are few
supporters of treating attempted suicide as a crime against the state.
In the case of Gian Kaur V of Punjab argued that the basic principle of section
309 of the IPC violated Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which stipulates
that everyone has the right to life. Therefore, based on this right, it has been
further argued that if an individual has the right to life, he also has the
right to take his own life. However, this premise was not well implemented, and
it was immediately dismissed, arguing that the constitutionality of this
argument could not be attributed, thereby rendering it invalid and void under
On 7th April 2017 mental healthcare act 2017 was enacted with the goal of
providing safety and much-needed relief to those suffering from mental diseases,
which have now become as widespread as the common cold. Section 115 mentions the
assumption of significant stress in the case of a suicide attempt, regardless of
the prohibitions of section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who attempts
suicide is presumed, unless otherwise proven, to be under severe mental distress
and stress, and hence is not liable to any penalty.
It is the responsibility of
the government to offer care, therapy, and rehabilitation to the people who is
suffering from severe stress and attempted suicide. This is done in order to
minimize the chances of a suicide attempt occurring again.
Despite the fact that the preceding two sections make it appear that Section 309
has been effectively repealed, this has not been the case. The restrictions
imposed on the use of this section under the provisions of the mental care
health act, as opposed to the section being removed entirely from the statute,
do not appear to be sufficient, owing to ongoing reports of its use by police
forces across the country. Many senior police officers have also acknowledged
that there is a significant lack of understanding of the relatively new Mental
health care act among officers at the police station level, and they're more
likely to rely on the provisions of Section 309 of the Indian penal code
But the fact is that charges under section 309 of Indian penal code often gets
drop on the basis of mental Healthcare Act As a result, even if the Section has
not been deleted entirely from the legislation, the MHCA nevertheless provides
safeguards for this Act.
Attempt to suicide - International scenario
Suicide and parasuicide approaches have been researched by many workers in their
individual jobs. Much research on the shifting patterns in suicide have been
done, and the current situation has been compared to the past. A global overview
of suicide methods and shifting patterns has been presented below
Countries who decriminalization attempted suicide
The act of suicide has not been criminalized in the penal law of the Islamic
Republic of Iran. However, no one is Allowed to ask another to kill him/her. In
addition, threatening to kill oneself is not an offense by the law, however if
this act of threatening is done by a prisoner in a prison, then that would be
considered as violation of the prisons 'regulations and the offender may be
punished according to penal law. In IRAN suicide has been a growing a concern
more than 13 people commit suicide in Iran every day the suicide trend in IRAN
has been seen increasingly in teenagers
Suicide mortality rate was reported at 4.6 % in 2019, according to the
World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially
Bhutan: crude suicide rate 2015 | Statista
Suicide in Australia has been legal euthanasia was legalized in Australia's
Northern Territory, by the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. It passed the
Northern Territory Parliament by a vote of 15 to 10. In August 1996 a repeal
bill was brought before the Parliament but was defeated by 14 votes to 11
physician legal suicide is Legal, except for New South Wales, Northern Territory
and Queensland voluntary euthanasia Legal in the state of Western Australia
Suicide in Australia: 6 Startling Facts
Switzerland had a suicide rate of 10.7 per 100,000 as of 2015. The actual rate
was 12.5 (male 18.5, female 6.6) in 2014. Suicide is legal in Switzerland
Physician aasisted suicide is also legal in Switzerland
Countries who criminalized attempted suicide
Asian countries like Japanž China, North Korea has criminalized suicide.
Japan: committing suicide is illegal in Japan in any way, but it
is not punishable by the law. Assisted suicide is also illegal in Japan and
anyone found assisting the person who is committing the suicide can be
China: any kind of suicide is illegal in Japan and any form of assisted
suicide is also punishable by law many individuals and teenagers have also
protested against the law and demand its change
North Korea: north Korea has criminalized suicide although the state
can't punish dead person, but the relatives of the dead person might be
- European countries which have criminalized suicide Romania, Russia
Romania suicide in Romania is not illegal but encouraging someone to
suicide is punishable by law by 10 years
Russia suicide is legalized in Russia but inciting someone to suicide
by threats or cruel remarks is illegal
Psychological Reason For Decriminalizing Suicide
There had been many psychological reasons and views on decriminalizing suicide.
Many jurists, society and culture Has criticized the act of suicide and called
it as an act of coward, weakness, selfish etc. which is true, but many people
are opposing the punishment for the act of suicide. so, we are going to talk
about the views and Reasons for decriminalizing on the basis of society view,
jurist view, and World health organization (WHO) view.
Delhi High Court in State v. Sanjay Kumar Bhatia6, a case under section 309,
"A young man has allegedly tried to commit suicide presumably because of over
emotionalism. It is ironic that Section 309 I.P.C. still continues to be on our
Penal Code. The result is that a young boy driven to such frustration so as to
seek one's own life would have 1985 CriLJ 931 escaped human punishment if he had
succeeded but is to be hounded by the police, because attempt has failed.
Instead of feeling ashamed that such societal tensions exist that a young man
(the future of India) is driven to suicide, society compounds its inadequacies
by punishing the youngster as a criminal. Instead of sending the young kid to a
psychiatric facility, it sends him to interact with criminals, The majority of
supporters of this verdict have stated that punishing such a vulnerable
individual who already is going through psychological and emotional hardship is
inhumane. Instead of going to jail, the person requires rehabilitation.
Many people praise the move to decriminalize suicide since those who attempt to
commit this "crime" deserve empathy and love, not punishment. Despite the fact
that the majority of states have supported the central government's decision to
decriminalize suicide under the Mental Health Act, section 309 remains in the
Indian penal code, preventing the application of section 115 of the mental
There were several case laws in which jurist gave their view to decriminalize
attempt to suicide in India. they are as
- In 1985 Delhi High Court in the case of State v. Sanjay Kumar Bhatia
held Section 309 to be "unworthy of human society
- In 1987 Bombay High Court in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Maruti
Satpati Dubal held Section 309 to be ultra vires the Constitution as it violated
Article 14 and Article 21.
- In 1988 Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Chenna Jagdeshwar v. State
of Andhra Pradesh upheld the constitutionality of Section 309 and stated that
right to life doesn't include right to die.
- In 1994 the case of P. Rathinam v. Union of India (2-judge bench), Supreme
Court upheld the view of Delhi and Bombay High Court and declared the Section
- In 1996 Smt. Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, Supreme Court (5-judge bench)
again held the Section 309 constitutional and thus overruled P. Rathinam's
- In 2011Supreme Court in the case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs Union of
India & Ors recommended Parliament to consider the decriminalization of Section
309 of IPC while laying guidelines of passive euthanasia.
- In 2022 simi CN vs. state of Kerala According to a recent decision by the
Kerala High Court, decriminalizing the crime of attempting suicide under Section
309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a more compassionate and practical
solution to the problem.
At the end supreme court gave the authority to decriminalize section 309 of
Indian penal code to parliament because of which mental healthcare bill was
introduced in 2013 and it was passed in 2017 but still after commencement of
this act section 309 of IP C was not removed
World health organization view
Suicide is a kind of violent death. Suicide is a significant public and mental
health concern globally, according to the World Health Organization's recent
study, World Report on Violence and Health. "Do people have a right to suicide
and/or attempted suicide?" asks the author of this article. The conclusion is
that there is no universal answer to the question, although there are certain
commonalities that affect problems of rights.
Treating suicide as a taboo, a
criminal, or a sin, for example. Suicide requires a worldwide reaction so that
it is no longer viewed just as a criminal, but as a multifaceted mental-health
issue that can be addressed. Therefore, it there is no clear answer on right to
die but it is clear that attempt to suicide should not be treated as crime
rather it should be treated as a mental health concern and the accused person
should be counseled by a psychiatrist provide by government rather than
The modern doctrine law is meant to rehabilitate the accused person rather than
punishing him for his crime. So, Punishing the person for the act of suicide is
against the modern doctrine law.
Rehabilitation of suicide victim in India
"The relevant Government shall have a duty to offer care, treatment, and
rehabilitation to a person who has severe stress and has attempted to die by
suicide, to decrease the likelihood of recurrence of an attempt to die by
suicide," according to Part 2 of Section 115(2) of the MHCA 2017.
The following procedures can be used by healthcare personnel in any hospital to
handle a person who has tried suicide:
- Step 1: Assessment and triaging in the emergency room
- Step 2: Stabilize the patient medically and/or surgically by providing
- Step 3: Medicolegal case registration, and depending on the severity,
admission if required
- Step 4: Mandatory psychiatric referral for required assessment (making a
diagnosis and assessing the severity of stress and suicidal intent) and
- Step 5: Inform the patient regarding Section 115 of MHCA 2017
- Step 6: Inquiry by the health team and police regarding Sections 108,
109, and 116 IPC
- Step 7: Discharge planning and follow-up care with medical, surgical,
and psychiatric teams as per guidelines
According to the MHCA 2017 recommendations, the individual can get
rehabilitation that may involve medical, surgical, and short psychiatric
interventions as well as aesthetic procedures, in addition to frequent follow-up
care in the community. The focus should be on the patients' eventual
incorporation into appropriate vocational, familial, and social rehabilitation.
It is insufficient to decriminalize suicide. To minimize its occurrence, a
thorough health program is required. Furthermore, the stigma associated with
suicide can only fade if the government and the social sector play a deliberate
role in raising anti-suicide awareness. And section 309 of Indian penal code
should be removed from the suicide law as punishing the person who is suffering
from agony will not improve anything for him/her.
Let's all hope that the government doesn't really rest here and continues to
make efforts in improving mental health in general.