Here is a shocking fact for you: suicide is the LEADING cause of death in people aged from 10 to 29 here in Singapore. If that isn’t a frightening statistic, then we don’t know what is. Mental health is a serious topic that isn’t discussed anywhere near enough, and yet it’s a subject that affects so many, the world over. The increasing pressures of our personal and professional lives can lead to moments of hopelessness, and sometimes it’s just too tough to put up our hands and say, “I really need some help.” But today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and we think that if society wants to help break the taboos that surround this devastating topic, we all need to start by talking to one another about our well-being, our worries, our fears and our overwhelming thoughts. So let’s kick this off by saying that, despite the shiny, happy life that social media often portrays, we ourselves have known and lost loved ones to suicide. That fact can never change, but we do hope that by reading this you can try and help anyone in your circle you feel may be vulnerable, and to recognise in yourselves that if you are struggling, there is always another way.
The situation in Singapore
The Samaritans of Singapore provide a safe space where information is kept anonymous and confidential, and it has a 24/7 hotline (1-800-221-4444) and email address for those in crisis. We all know how much pressure we put on ourselves as parents, but these startling facts from The Samaritans of Singapore relating to children as young as 10 years old are especially worrying:
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged 10-29
- There were 2.8 times more deaths from suicide than transport accidents in 2018
- Males account for more than 71 per cent of all suicides in 2018
- For every suicide, at least six suicide survivors are left behind.
The situation globally
In August 2018, The World Health Organisation issued these global statistics:
- Every year, 800,000 people die globally due to suicide. That’s one person every 40 seconds
- For every person who takes their life, around 20 more people will attempt to do so
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds around the world
- Suicide accounted for 1.4 per cent of all deaths worldwide in 2018, making it the 18th leading cause of death.
Signs to look for
The Samaritans of Singapore say looking for signs that someone might be contemplating suicide is not always easy. Some people can easily mask their true feelings, and teenagers especially can be hard to gauge and read. Its advice is to ask this simple question about the person you are concerned for: “What is he or she going through right now?”
It may be upcoming exams, a relationship or friendship that has soured or been lost through repatriation, a new baby, a huge upheaval or an international move. Knowing what someone is currently going through can help you understand if that person may be in crisis. By monitoring physical, emotional and mental state, you may start to notice warning signs that could indicate a risk of suicide.
Is this person talking in a way that could indicate feelings of despair?
- Expressions of being a burden to others: “My family will be better off without me.”
- Expressions of feeling trapped/in unbearable pain: “There’s no point to my life anymore.”
- Suicide threats: “If you don’t love me anymore, I will kill myself.”
What actions should set off warning bells?
- Giving away treasured possessions and saying goodbye
- Researching suicide methods
- Writing suicide notes (including emails/diaries/blogs)
Are this person’s moods pointing to a crisis?
- Extreme emotional outbursts (anger, sadness, irritability, recklessness)
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Humiliation or anxiety
Helplines in Singapore
If you, or anyone you know needs some support then please, please do get in touch with one of Singapore’s dedicated helplines. Your call will never be judged and your conversation will remain anonymous. It doesn’t matter what you say to these guys, but please do say it.
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- CHAT @ *SCAPE: (+65) 6493 6500, (+65) 6493 6501
- SAF Counselling Hotline: 1800-278-0022
Much love to all.
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