Mental health bill decriminalising suicide passed by Parliament

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New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, that provides for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness, and also decriminalises suicide, secured parliamentary approval on Monday with the Lok Sabha’s assent to the legislation.

The bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016, ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.

One of the clauses in the bill decriminalises suicide, stating that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code,” the bill said.

As per the bill, it will be government’s duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of any attempt.

The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he she wants to be treated for the illness and nominate a representative.

–IANS

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