Mental health care bill passed in Parliament, suicide remains no more a crime

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On Monday, The Mental Healthcare Bill, was unanimously passed in the Lok Sabha . The most significant thing about the bill is that it decriminalises a suicide attempt by mentally ill people.

Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from “severe stress” and, therefore, shall not be tried or punished by law. the new Bill further clarifies that persons with suicidal tendencies be provided help and rehabilitated.

Image courtesy: Huffingtonpost.com

This is the first mental health law to take a “rights-based” approach to mental illness that  would include, good quality, affordable and easy access to services apart from the right to equality of treatment, consolidating and safeguarding the rights of fundamental human rights of the patients.

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A unique feature of the Bill is that it allows adults to make an advance directive on how they wish to be treated in case they got mental illness in the future, and who her/his nominated representative shall be.

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