PAS Senator Implies K-Dramas Lead To High Suicide Rate Among Teens In Malaysia

Netizens criticised Senator Mohd Apandi Mohamad for misplacing his focus on K-dramas without addressing the real issues that drive Malaysian teens to suicide.

Cover image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube) & Kennokyos

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A senator aligned with PAS has received flak for suggesting that there could be a link between South Korean dramas and movies and the high suicide rate among Malaysian teens

Speaking during the Dewan Negara sitting yesterday, 13 October, Senator Mohd Apandi Mohamad suggested that K-dramas and K-movies could be a propellant leading to young teens dying by suicide.

"Do you agree that teens who died by suicide were influenced by movies and dramas made in Korea?" he intercepted Senator Fadhlina Sidek of PKR when she was sharing the statistics of teens who died by suicide.

"Every story has a plot about suicide. [...] Agree or not, when there's a failure, there's suicide. Failure, then suicide."

"Is it because they are influenced by these Korean dramas?"

PAS Senator Mohd Apandi Mohamad.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

Earlier, Fadhlina cited a UNICEF report and shared that about 18.3% of Malaysian teens aged between 13 and 17 have mental health problems

She said the report highlighted that suicide was the second-highest cause of teen deaths in Malaysia, with 51% of suicides being between the ages of 15 and 18.

"When we look at the record provided by Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) for the period between 2019 and 2020, suicide victims aged between 15 and 18 were the highest age group within the total 872 reported cases," she told the Dewan Negara.

"This is a waste to Malaysia when these teens, who are at a very productive age, die or are involved in suicide."

Shortly after, Apandi intercepted her and asked whether K-dramas and K-movies could be a contributing factor to the phenomenon, to which Fadhlina acknowledged that South Korean shows often have elements of suicide.

However, as a mental health activist, she said there are many factors that lead to teens taking their own lives.

She explained that the media has a "contagious" effect while portraying suicide. Hence, she said the way media portrays suicide cases should follow the ethical guidelines put out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

PKR Senator Fadhlina Sidek (top) and Apandi.

Image via Parlimen Malaysia (YouTube)

In response to Apandi's remark, many netizens criticised the senator for failing to highlight the main causes of suicide among teens and that he instead chose to focus on K-dramas and K-movies

"Peer pressure, academic pressure, family/parents' issues are among the leading problems of teenage suicide, but you're not even highlighting these," Free Malaysia Today quoted a Twitter user as saying.

"And there are K-dramas that emphasise the importance of mental health, such as the drama It's Okay To Not Be Okay."

"Senator Mohd Apandi Mohamad, please do a proper survey before talking. The issue of suicide is not a topic that can be taken lightly. No, this is a sensitive issue. You cannot be arbitrary while presenting an opinion without (basing it on) true facts," replied a netizen to Harian Metro's tweet carrying the news.

The netizen also mentioned how the hit K-drama, It's Okay To Not Be Okay, helped them through a dark time in their life.

Image via Twitter

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching member of Parliament (MP) Dr Kelvin Yii asked, "What K-Dramas he is (sic) watching."

"But this is oversimplifying and down-playing the issue without addressing the root problem and provide (sic) the necessary support."

Apandi's remark can be seen at the 2:33:45 mark in the video below:

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

If you or anyone you know is lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, please call these Malaysian hotlines:

Contact: +603-76272929
Email: [email protected]
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Contact: 15999
WhatsApp: +6019-2615999
Email: [email protected]
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Daily (12pm - 12am)
Contact: 1800-18-2327
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For a more thorough directory of resources, head over to the websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association or MINDAKAMI.

If you wish to talk to professionals in person or online, there are several options available:

The government recently agreed to decriminalise suicide:

The K-drama It's Okay To Not Be Okay received a nod in the 'TV Movie / Mini-Series' category of the Emmy Awards: