Suicide: the Silent Pandemic

Let’s Talk About Suicide Prevention Together

25th September 2021 • 1pm-7pm (UTC+08:00)

Malaysia's First Multidisciplinary Symposium on Suicide Prevention

Dignity for Children Foundation logoMASW logoPERKAMA logo
Man standing in a stairwell looking up

Let’s Talk About Suicide Prevention Together

As the world battles with Covid-19, another war rages in Malaysia. Our nation is fighting against a silent pandemic, the soaring number of suicides in the country. In these uncertain times, everyone is at risk of suicide, but the situation is most dire among the most vulnerable populations of our society: the neglected, the traumatized and the abused.

Trapped by cultural, political and religious stigmas and prohibitions, those at risk are silenced and isolated by shame and blame, meaninglessness and hopelessness. In their inner darkness and confusion, the stigma of suicide keeps them from reaching out for help.

One crucial element of suicide prevention is the fact that suicide has many faces. Some of these faces are hidden and unacknowledged.

Itʼs been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Thereʼs an innate desire to help, but so far, weʼve grappled with the problem in isolation within our own fields of expertise and thatʼs why we need to discuss this together.

This symposium is a first attempt at creating space to openly talk about our concerns, our hopes and our plans for our people and for the generations that are to come. We need to hear, argue, agree and disagree, be enlivened and renewed in our vision, and in the spirit of mutuality, respect, safety, to trust and hope that together we are stronger and have more resources to share with each other. We are not better than each other; we are better together.

Weʼre bringing together, as a community, experts from various disciplines and they include educators, academicians, lawyers, doctors, and mental health and social work professionals. Join us as we meet and hear the perspectives of social workers, addiction counselors, school principals, medical doctors, therapists, teachers and clinicians. ALL of us are in this together: to lessen suicidal deaths and reduce the despair in our homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. Letʼs talk.

Who Should Attend

Anyone who seeks to stand up and acknowledge our responsibility in perpetuating the stigma and silence of suicide.

Anyone who is concerned about the increasing number of suicides and suicide attempts in the country and wants to help do something to prevent suicide.

Why Attend

Because preventing suicide is everyone’s responsibility. You may be able to save a life if you’re more informed about the many faces of suicide. Come be a part of something that can literally make a life or death difference.


RM 50 registration fee
RM 150 for certification and
2 CPD points for registered counselors

Group discount available for organizations:
7 participants and above are eligible for group discount of RM 30 per person (not applicable for certification and CPD points). Scholarships are available.

Registrations are closed.


1:00pm-2:00pmOpening Address
Rev. Elisha Satvinder
Prof. Dr. Azlinda Azman
Opening Keynote Speaker
Dr. J.J. Rasimas

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business. Stop the silence and stigma: start the conversations. The stigma and myths have to be exposed, and examined in order to enter into honest collaborations of on issues regarding suicide prevention. Open conversations start with those of us who have committed our lives to the care and service of our communities. We have to face our stigmas, prejudices and myths. This is especially important in the light of consultation requests to evaluate the patient suspected to be at risk of suicide. This is the single most frequent reason for psychiatric consultation and is often a source of anxiety for psychiatry medicine trainees. The evaluation, management and documentation of the suicidal patient require sophisticated clinical skills and have relevance for virtually everyone involved in delivering and administering care for the patient with co-morbid medical and psychiatric illnesses.

2:00pm-5:00pmPanel Speakers
Datuk Dr. Raj Abdul Karim

While suicide is a silent pandemic, child and adolescent suicides are the hidden pandemic. Breaking the silence and stigma of suicide begins with giving voice to the voiceless population of our world. Preventing homicides, suicides and non-fatal violence requires comprehensive multisectoral approaches that cover not only health and mental health services, but also go beyond the health sector and deal with the underlying causes, such as gender and socioeconomic inequalities, social norms that allow violence, access to highly hazardous pesticides, and irresponsible reporting by the media.

Ms. Petrina Satvinder

Suicide is the silent stalker of the lives of children and adolescents. Teachers are essential in breaking the silence, stigma and discrimination against those who struggle with suicidal and self-harming thoughts. Strategies for improving suicide prevention efforts include in-school trainings on mental health resources and procedures, regular updates on these trainings, and greater visibility of mental health staff and collaboration between departments within the school setting.

Dato’ Dr. Abd. Halim Mohd. Hussin

There are many ways of committing suicide. Addiction-related suicide is one such method. Underlying mental health issues often result in self-medicating in order to forget or numb, or more seriously, they harbor a wish to die to the pain associated with these mental health issues. Research proves that there is a strong relationship between substance abuse and suicide. The focus needs to be not just on the evidence for a link between addiction use/abuse and suicidal behavior, but also on possible clinical or biological factors that may mediate this link, and the implications of this evidence for suicide prevention.

Ms. Larissa Ann Louis

The dilemma of suicide as it impacts and is impacted by legal institutions and among those committed to upholding justice is largely unknown among other stakeholders in this area. This talk will be an exploration of the roles and responsibilities of those practicing law. Strategies for including legal representatives in a more integrated way with suicide prevention efforts will be discussed.

Dr. Robert Guibord

Conversations on suicide rarely ever take into consideration philosophical perspectives on the topic. But every dialogue on suicide, and suicide prevention, bears the weight of fundamental questions about the meaning of life. Albert Camus the 19th century philosopher, originally from the geopolitically fractured French colony in northern Africa, Algeria, challenges human beings to think honestly about suicide. In his essay on suicide, The Myth of Sisyphus," he begins, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide... ". Hence we are confronted with reconceptualizing and reframing some basic assumptions in our thinking about suicide.

Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd. Suhaimi Mohamad

Social work and psychology programs within academic institutions are uniquely positioned to study, train, teach, collaborate and join other organizations in offering aid in suicide prevention. Strategies for addressing current gaps in teaching and training in suicide prevention will be examined.

5:00pm-6:30pmPanel Discussion
Q & A
6:30pm-7:00pmClosing Keynote Speaker
Dr. Valerie Jaques

We are increasingly aware of an urgent need to collaborate with other child and adolescent health care professionals, welfare agencies, educators and parents in the identification and management of the children, adolescents and adults at risk for suicide. Honest feedback on obstacles in the collaborations between all stakeholders.

Closing Address
Dr. Mahinder Kaur


Dr. J.J. RasimasKeynote SpeakerM.D. in Psychiatry, Ph.D. in Chemical Biology. Psychiatrist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota. Professor at the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Valerie JaquesKeynote SpeakerPh.D. in Clinical Psychology. Founder of Integrated Psychology Network Sdn. Bhd.
Prof. Dr. Azlinda AzmanPanel ModeratorPh.D. in Clinical Social Work. President Malaysian Association of Social Workers. Dean, School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.
Datuk Dr. Raj Abdul KarimPanel SpeakerPresident of the Malaysian Council of Child Welfare. Chair of End CSEC Network Malaysia. Vice President of Federation Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia.
Ms. Larissa Ann LouisPanel SpeakerBachelor of Law (Hons). Litigation lawyer, Human Rights Activist, Messrs. Azri, Lee Swee Seng & Co.
Ms. Petrina SatvinderPanel SpeakerM.A. Holistic Child Development, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Pedagogy. Co-founder and CEO of Dignity for Children Foundation.
Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd. Suhaimi MohamadPanel SpeakerPh.D. in Social Work. Director, Center for Professional and Leadership Development, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Datoʼ Dr. Abd. Halim Mohd. HussinPanel SpeakerDrug Addiction Counseling Expert. Honorary Fellow of Asian Center for Research on Drug Abuse, USIM. President of PERKAMA International.
Dr. Robert GuibordPanel SpeakerPh.D. in Clinical Psychology. Private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.
Rev. Elisha SatvinderOpening AddressCo-founder of Dignity for Children Foundation. Council member and Honorary Secretary of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship.



A Note of Thanks

The past year has been a difficult one for many mental health and social welfare organizations. Our interactions with our sponsors, PERKAMA and Malaysia Association for Social Workers, never failed to encourage us. We want to thank Dato’ Dr. Halim Hussin, Puan Amy Bala and Dr. Azlinda Azman, for their strong and steady support during the planning of the symposium. Your warmth, kindness, enthusiasm and words of wisdom, saw us through many challenges. Your partnership with us was not only in words, it was followed through in actions. We are very grateful. Your organizations are beacons of hope and encouragement to many of us.

To Rev Elisha Satvinder and Petrina Satvinder: From the very conception of Dignity, your pioneering spirit has greeted every new challenge and endeavor with a big “YES” and a “Let's do it”. You epitomize the phrase, “To boldly go where no man has gone before…" (Dillard, J). Thank you for saying a big YES to this symposium.

It would be easy to forget the most important contributors to this event. Behind the scenes, a group has worked in order to make this symposium a success. To each staff member on this team, the deepest thank you and gratitude are due to you for so willingly putting in your hard work, time and tireless energy. Without you, this symposium would merely have remained in the mind, but you took the thoughts and ideas and translated them into this event.

Sai Fun, Dignity has adopted you as one of its staff. Why wouldn’t we? You answered our questions, responded to requests for help at absurd hours of the day and night; you limped, squinted and squealed because you forgot that you needed to take a break to relax, to give your eyes some rest and to take more washroom breaks 🤣. We got ourselves a great partnership when you 'came aboard' and a brilliant copywriter to boot. We owe you an unrepayable debt. Thank you is not big enough a word to express our gratitude for your work.