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Indian Legal System and Mental Illness

Mental illness is the most traumatic illness a person can have. When an individual suffers from mental illness one tries to attempt suicide or suffers from mere depression. Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all the ages suffer from depression. It is different from usual mood flucations and short- lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life.

Depression of many kinds, but one must consult a therapist, a friend, a family member or any individual victim feels safe to have a talk without being judged. When the victim is depressed and later feels to commit suicide. Victim is afraid to pour out the feelings by a thought of being judged or merely feels “Log kyakhenge”, or the society be so much judgmental.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected:
  1. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. Although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder.
     
  2. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.

Mental Health Care Act, 2017

The mental health care act, 2017 has defined mental illness as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgements, behavior capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.

The bill specifies the process and producer to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals. A person with mental illness shall not be held liable.

Rights under mental health care act, 2017
  1. Right to make an advance directive
  2. Right to access healthcare services
  3. Right to free of cost healthcare services
  4. Right to live in community
  5. Right to protection from cruel inhuman and degrading treatment
  6. Right to equality and non-discrimination
  7. Right to information
  8. Right to legal aid and complain
  9. Right to enter into a contract

De-criminalization of attempt to commit suicide
In sec 115(1) 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

(2) The appropriate Government shall have a 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 attempt to commit suicide.

About 800,000 people die by SUICIDE worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India ,a nation with 17.5% of world population. Between 1987 and 2007, the suicide rate increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000, with higher suicide rates in southern and eastern states of India. In 2012,TamilNadu (12.5% of all suicides), Maharashtra (11.9%) and WestBengal (11.0%) had the highest proportion of suicides. Among large population states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had the highest suicide rates per 100,000 people in 2012. The male to female suicide ratio has been about 2:1.

The Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is bible for the citizen who resides in India. The constitution of India provides six fundamental right to citizen. Out of which article 21 states “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedures established by law”.

Hon'ble Supreme Court views
Abetment to commit suicide is a punishable offense under section 306 of Indian Penal Code. Attempt to commit suicide was also a punishable offense under section 309 of Indian penal code before 2014.

Section 309 Attempt to commit suicide – whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.

The constitutional validity of section 309 was challenged In P. Rathinam v. U.O.I and Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the provision punishing the attempt to commit suicide is cruel and irrational and is violative of article 21 of the Constitution and it deserves to be effacted from the statute book to humanize the penal laws.

The decision was subsequently overruled in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab and the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that attempt to commit suicide is an offense and provisions of punishing this offense as laid down in section 309 are not unconstitutional.

Suicidal Strangulation
Suicidal Strangulation is not very common, though sometimes met with. In this case some contrivance is always made to keep the ligature light after insensibility supervences. This is done by twisting a cord several times round the neck and tying the knot, which usually single and in front or at side or back of the neck, by twisting a cord tightly by means of a stick, stone or some other solid material. Such cases injures to the deep structures of the neck and marks violence on other parts of the body.

Conclusion
Recent death of an actor and Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput shook the nation and once again talk on this sensitive issue has started. Mental illness is a serious issue if no necessary steps are taken than the death ratio will keep on increasing. This current generation should not be afraid to convey their feelings or to communicate. They should not even for a second give a thought about “log kya kahenge” or being judged by the society, or to see a therapist if needed. It will only help them to not take decisions which are worse and can take a life.

There are NGOs and even helplines by government for the people who has sudicial thoughts or are facing major depression or have urge to take life. The helplines help and give emotional support so that the wave of thought flys away.

One having sudicial thoughts can contact 9820466726 for support and assisatnace. They provide 24*7 service. Depression and suicide are like peanut butter and jelly sandwich both goes togather and with the increase in the suidicial ratio it is essential yet necessary step to be taken care of and help people from committing such thoughts and give emotional support.

Written By: Shivani Vora

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