Mental Health Bill 2016: 10 Facts You Should Know About Suicide Decriminalization in India

sparshita saxena  |  Updated: April 04, 2017 11:30 IST

Mental Health Bill 2016: 10 Facts You Should Know About Suicide Decriminalization in India
  • The Mental Healthcare Bill was proposed in the year 2016
  • It pressed for decriminalizing suicide
  • The Bill secured parliamentary approval last Monday
The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016 ushered in a wave of positive response from all across the country. As the bill got a nod from the majority in Lok Sabha, India rubbed shoulders with many others countries that had previously stop seeing suicide as a criminal offence. Some of the countries that had previously decriminalized suicide include - Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Russia, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, South Africa, Argentina, Canada, and America among others. Some of India's neighbouring countries like Bhutan, China, Japan, Sri Lanka had already decriminalized suicide earlier while Pakistan and Bangladesh still have it as illegal.

The Bill in a Nutshell

1. The Mental Healthcare Bill was proposed in the year 2016

2. It pressed for decriminalizing suicide and seeking legal aid, healthcare and medical services for those with mental illness by the respective government.

3. The Bill secured parliamentary approval last Monday with Lok Sabha's assent.

4. Government will take the responsibility to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to the victim in order to reduce the risk of any recurrence of the suicidal attempt.

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5. Free treatment for the homeless or poor


6. Below Poverty Line card is not required for people seeking free-of-cost treatment.

7. State and central Mental Health Review boards will be set up along with boards at district level.

8. The government will set up a Central Mental Health Authority at the national level and a State Mental Health Authority in every state.

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9. Every mental health institute and mental health practitioners including clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers will have to be registered with the authorities.

10. The victim has the right to choose the way he or she wants to be treated for the illness and can also nominate a representative.

"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," the bill said.

The person in concern has full right to utmost confidentiality with respect to his/her identity and the associated treatment. Official bodies and authorities will register, supervise and maintain a record of all mental health establishments as well as a register of mental health professionals. These will also be vested with the responsibility of training law enforcement officials as well as mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act. All complaints, suggestions and grievances regarding any deficiencies in the provision of services shall be addressed to these bodies and authorities.

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