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600,000 Malaysians unemployed is the highest figure in a decade. More help is needed for struggling families with financial and mental health woes exacerbated by the MCO.

The Coronavirus pandemic is a fast changing problem, which not only is our personal health at risk, it also affects our mental and financial health. Many families worry about how they can manage to pay their bills, the rent, the mortgage, the car loan, the study loan, food and medical emergencies.

As many companies go bust, or are forced to downsize and lay off workers, many people will find themselves without a job. Many breadwinners and their families face a bleak future, and the chances are that few companies will hire staff, when the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted. Already, around 600,000 Malaysians are now unemployed because of the MCO.

Does the government have a plan?

The government must have a sound plan to help retrenched workers and assist companies to get back on their feet. The backbone of the nation’s economy is the Small and Medium-sized Industries. Without a fiscal plan to kick-start the tanking economy, the deaths from suicides or starvation will surpass those from Coronavirus.

Domestic violence & suicide

On 30 April, following an argument over their financial problems, a husband  beat his wife, after which her father took his daughter to lodge a report at the police station, accompanied by the husband.

They left once the report had been made, and the couple agreed to settle their problems in a civil manner. All parties appeared to have calmed down and they headed home to collect some documents so that the wife could seek treatment for her injuries.

Once they arrived home, the husband suddenly grabbed a knife and stabbed both his wife and his father-in-law. Both the injured father and daughter rushed to the Serdang hospital to seek treatment and the police were dispatched to arrest the husband.

On arrival at the victim’s house, the police found no response and had to break down the door to arrest him; but they found his body instead.

He had apparently committed suicide. The police said that the case was being investigated under Section 324 of the Penal Code and the verdict, was classified as sudden death.

Various forms of aid, including self-help

Aid is not just about food parcels and free personal protection equipment (PPE).

Aid could be a telephone hot line providing non-judgemental and confidential counselling services so that someone in need, can chat to a trained counsellor who may help lessen the burden of his problems.

On a personal level, there are some things that someone in financial stress can do, to reduce his worry.

He should stick to a daily routine. Avoiding meals, not going to bed at the proper time and snacking often, will not contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Being cooped-up during the lockdown is not normal, so it is all the more important to stick to a daily routine.

He should try and do some form of exercise, because physical activity may help improve his mood. There are exercises he could watch on YouTube.

He should confront his fears and seek advice on settling his debts. It is best not to put this off, but tackle it whilst it is manageable.

He should not consume excessive amounts of alcohol, or drugs, in the false hope that they might reduce his stress. On the contrary, these may lead to more problems.

As more people are confined to their homes, and have no means of escape like going out to work or visiting other people, relationships, which may have been strained, to start with, will be placed under more pressure. There is nothing worse for the abused wife, than to find that she is stuck in the house, with her tormentor and has no means of escape.

In most cases, the wife is the victim. When things spiral out of control, the husband may harm the wife and also take it out on the children. A dedicated help line has already been set up by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, called Talian Kasih, 15999 and is a toll-free number.

The Befrienders  03-79568145/8144 or https://www.befrienders.org.my/  is dedicated to helping those who feel depressed or suicidal.

The message should be clear. Seek immediate help if you think you cannot cope, or if you feel that your situation is desperate and you think that life is not worth living.

Your views are needed for a new article.

NB. 1. What do you think of TV 3 in Malaysia?

2. Do you limit your children to the number of hours they play computer games?

3. Do you know anyone who is addicted to computer games and how have the PC games affected both their lives and yours?

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