Is Attempt To Suicide Justified?
Written by: Nikita Sharma, Student, Indore Institute of Law, Indore
We all know that we would die one day, but this doesn’t mean we can decide to end our life by self-killing/suicide because that leads us to nothing worth. Just as our birth is beyond our control likewise, death is too and hence, no one must decide to end it on any terms set by his/her beliefs. There are so many troubles faced by every individual who leads them to take a shortcut by ending their life as the only solution, but we all know that shortcut is never the best option. Over 8, 00,000 people kill themselves every year around the world, and in India 16.5 suicides occur per 1, 00,000 people per year.
Suicide is defined nowhere in the Indian Penal Code still it is a criminal offence under the law. A person who commits attempt to suicide and succeeds in ending his life is beyond the reach of law but if he remains unsuccessful in the commission then, he shall be punished under Section 309of Indian Penal Code. The validity of Section 309 was challenged in “State of Maharashtra vs. Maruti Sripati Dubal” and “P Rathinam vs. Union of India” cases in which the courts held Section 309 as unconstitutional. On the contrary, in “Gian Kaur vs. State of Punjab”, the Court held that Section 309 of I.P.C is valid because it does not violate Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
In “Common cause vs. Union of India”, case this was argued that when a doctor suggests that the patient suffering from a terminal disease has reached a point of the last stage with no return, then the patient should have right to die to avoid pain. The Supreme Court held that passive euthanasia is legal in India i.e. “right to die with dignity is a fundamental right”. But when euthanasia was legalised, there arose a possibility of misuse of it by people to fulfil their malafide intentions, and hence, in “Arun Ramachandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India” the Court decided certain guidelines for allowing passive euthanasia to prevent any misuse of it.
Now the question arises whether section 309 of I.P.C. should be removed or be considered as a criminal offence? After the increase in the number of cases, the Government of India proposed a "Mental Healthcare Act, 2017”. In this Act, it is stated that any person who attempts to commit attempt to suicide shall be provided mental care, medical treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code, to reduce the reattempt to commit attempt to suicide. Government has also decided to delete Section 309 of I.P.C. from the statute book, the decision of which is still pending from the Court’s side.
If attempt to suicide gets removed from the IPC and certain preventive measures are taken by the Government then it would be probable that this problem might reduce to some extent. The suggestions are as follows:-
The government should prioritise mental health issues.
They should create a safe space for everyone struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Mental treatment should be given to the people at regular intervals, based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Every state must create its own suicide prevention helpline number.
The government should make short films, documentaries or inspirational movies like Chhichhore and 3 idiots which inspire the youth.
Parents counselling would help to generate a positive environment.
Every year a positive and inspirational seminar should be organised in every school so that children get proper knowledge.
The government must provide care, treatment and psychiatric counselling to every person who has ever attempted to commit suicide to reduce the chances of reattempt.
The attempt to suicide must be fully discriminatory in India because we live in a society where people face different issues, problems and troubles which are beyond the scope of knowledge of our perusal, so we need to give some consideration to our minds regarding the concept of attempt to suicide because an attempt to suicide can never be justified. For example, a woman who was beaten and tortured by her husband tried attempt to suicide, now is this justified? Obviously not, she must take a legal action against her husband because he was the one who deserved punishment, not the wife who wanted to kill herself. We always have some laws regarding the illegal activities but there also exist some situations we might not expect ever or we might not have felt yet such as depression, failure in an exam, disturbing relationships, death in the family or any of your close one, in such situations suicide can never be justified because what they need is psychiatric help.
The right to die or attempt suicide should be legalized only for those people who are facing very terminal illness, serious condition, critical situation where there is no hope of their living, those people should have right to suicide and not those who are facing very little and normal problems in their life. So according to my point of view attempt to suicide is fully discriminatory.
References World Health Organisation, Suicide data- WHO, www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/.  Jameela Ahmed, India has the highest suicide rate in South-East Asia, but no prevention strategy, 4 October 2019, www.indiaspend.com/india-has-the-highest-suicide-rate-in-south-east-asia-but-no-prevention-strategy/. Indian Penal Code, 1860.  AIR 1987 CriLJ 743. AIR 1994 SC 1844. AIR 1996 SC 946. The Indian Constitution, 1950.  AIR 1989(2) SCC 541.  AIR 2011(4) SCC 454.
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