The Punjab Police teach us a lesson on how not to discuss suicide prevention

The Punjab Police teach us a lesson on how not to discuss suicide prevention

No one is impressed with their threats to lock up people who survive suicide attempts.
22 May, 2021

The Punjab Police have just run one of the most disconnected and unaware awareness campaigns on suicide prevention we have ever seen and people are disgusted.

The department's official Twitter account shared a poster with the caption "times and situations change but you can’t get your life back" and the hashtags 'building for better', 'awareness' and 'Punjab police'.

So far, so good.

The problem was the poster itself, which starts with an ombre notice on top that states "attempting suicide is a crime".

It also mentions Section 325 of the PPC, 1860, which penalises attempted suicides. At the bottom was a note that said "if you survive you can be imprisoned for up to one year".

The post was laughable in its absurdity because, as people on Twitter were quick to point out, the police weren't actually telling people not to commit suicide. They're saying if you attempt it, you better not fail.

While the initial reaction to the post may have been baffled speechlessness people had lots to say after they got over their initial shock.

Many people reacted, rather predictably and aptly, with expletives because honestly, what in the world is this?

Yes, we have a law that is archaic and downright criminal that penalises attempted suicide. The Penal Code was passed in 1860, back when the British ruled us, and though it has seen some reforms, much of it is mired in a colonial mindset. The law itself needs to change.

If someone attempts suicide, the response should not be to lock them up and thereby strengthen their resolve to get it right next time. We need to help them and counsel them. But for the police to threaten — and it was very much a threat — people with jail time if they fail to successfully kill themselves is bizarre.

If you want to help people and prevent suicide, this is not the way to do it. Let's talk suicide prevention helplines or counselling for people who have suicidal thoughts. Let's talk about empathy and understanding that people make the decision to end their lives when they're at the end of their rope, it isn't a joke. They're already in a bad mental state and threatening them with jail time, something possibly even more scary than the thought of ending their lives for some people, isn't helping.

Instead of an exercise in insensitivity, perhaps the police would be better off understanding what drives people to suicide and working to help the community they serve.


Ibrahim May 22, 2021 03:46pm
Unfortunately force and violence are the solutions for all our problems . Starting from home to school or to you will see all type of violence part of our life . Nobody understands the mental health - mostly it’s believed that a possession by a ghost or jinn can be cured by a faith healer who will use force to Exorcise the bad spirit . Suicide has many reasons, it’s also a mental disease that should be addressed by a psychiatrist or health professionals only and not to punished by locking up. Is there any suicide prevention hotline available .
Nationalist May 22, 2021 03:47pm
Fair call by Punjab police. Officers sometimes risk thier lives to save people attempting suicide.
Chrís Dăn May 22, 2021 04:47pm
I expect any and every idiotic and ignorant announcement for public by the Punjab Police. Punjab Police has never been trained to work and to think about common man in Punjab.
R A May 22, 2021 04:53pm
Make sure not to fail or beg for another chance
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 22, 2021 05:02pm
Yet another great controversy effected by the Punjab Police in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
ST May 22, 2021 06:23pm
Bach janey ki surat me aik saal qaid. Means asmaan se gira khajoor me atka
HashBrown® May 22, 2021 06:58pm
@Nationalist "Officers sometimes risk thier lives to save people attempting suicide." Not the point. Somebody who's been pushed to the point of suicide won't be discouraged by some silly penalty - in fact the penalty is just pushing more people into helplessness and despair, which means more risk for both vulnerable Pakistanis and the police officers tasked with protecting them.
Kashif May 22, 2021 07:17pm
Only in Punjab
neo May 22, 2021 09:08pm
we always put FEAR in our people. Never try to make them AWARE.
ZAK May 22, 2021 10:23pm
@Ibrahim is not a disease it's just an intense phase of depression and hopelessness due to loss or major trauma setback in life etc. It happens with almost anyone once or reoccurring in a lifetime. Some have chronic phases and some get over it. It's not a disease for certain.
Yasir May 23, 2021 12:21am
@Chrís Dăn This is not the fault of Punjab Police. Laws are not made by Police. These are made by members of assemblies elected by voters of the Nation. Problem lies here. No one is thinking to make laws as per needs of modern times.