Suicide is no longer a crime; mental healthcare is every person's right, says Mental Healthcare Bill 2016

Sriparna Ghosh

For all people who have quiet often been hounded by society because they are known to have suicidal tendencies or are a topic of gossip because they undergo mental care, the Parliament has good news for all.

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The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, which can indeed be termed as a landmark bill, received parliamentary approval on Monday. The bill has not only decriminalised suicide, but has also ensured that every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the government.

As per the bill, suicide or attempting suicide is no longer a crime because, a person who attempts suicide is presumed to be under severe stress, and shall not be punished.

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According to an IANS report, the bill said, "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."

Besides assuring free mental care and treatment for persons who are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card, the bill has also emphasised that it will be government's duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person under 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.

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