Child suicide amongst Singapore kids
When a young child commits suicide it leaves parents and friends shocked, saddened and wondering if they could’ve done more to prevent it. Here’s how to take action to help a troubled child and prevent child suicide.
A Singaporean girl attempted to kill herself ten times, according to a report by the Malaysia chronicle. Her numerous attempts have driven her parents to taking out a court injunction against her taking her life.
Extreme as the above case may be, it appears that thoughts of suicide have been on the increase in Singaporean children. According to a 2010 statistics from the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), an organisation dedicated to suicide prevention, the rates of suicide cases in Singapore rose from 8.76 per 100,000 residents in 2008 to 9.35 in 2009.
The increase in suicide rates predominantly involved young people. Among the 10 to 29 years age group, 91 killed themselves compared to 64 in 2008. Suicide rates for the 20 to 29 years age group stood at 72.
Compared to other developed countries, child suicide rates amongst Singapore youths are still relatively low. However, these numbers have been creeping up over the last 30 years. In the book, “Feeling blue – A guide to handling teenage depression”, Dr Daniel Fung, Carolyn Kee and Dr Rebecca Ang, share that there is a “worrying trend of extremely young suicides which has become more apparent in the past 10 years.” They add that, “Because of this, a national mental health prevention programme called ‘Mind Your Mind’ was put in place.
How to spot the signs of depression
Individuals who have a history of depression, are more likely to attempt suicide, here are some signs you should look out for if you think someone is suffering from depression.
1. Difficulty sleeping or other disruptions of sleep patterns
2. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety and/or sorrow at inappropriate times
3. Loss of interest in pastimes formerly enjoyed
4. A sensation of hopelessness, lack of self-esteem and feelings of guilt
5. Fatigue and overall lower energy levels
6. Loss of appetite or abnormally large appetite, leading to weight loss or gain
7. Suicidal thoughts and recurring thoughts about death
8. Irritability, restlessness and short temper
9. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
10. Difficulty in making or maintaining close friendships
The increased use of social media amongst children and teens can also lead to additional social pressure through cyber-bullying. Be aware of your child’s social media presence and be part of his or her circles on social media platforms to monitor any troubling comments.
In a country like Singapore with no other natural resource, our children remain our most precious hope for the future. In pushing them to succeed, lets also keep an key on their mental health and be aware of changes in behavior. Seek help immediately. There is a great deal of assistance available through schools and other organisations like the Samaritans of Singapore. To speak to a 24-hour SOS counsellor call 1800 221 4444.
If you suspect your child to be depressed or harbouring suicidal thoughts please seek help immediately. Some resources:
Child Guidance Clinic (CGH), Health Promotion Board (HPB)
Second Hospital Avenue, #03-01, Singapore 168937
Tel: 6389 2200
Sunrise Wing, CGH
Buangkok Green Medical Park
Block 3, Basement 10, Buangkok View, Singapore 539747
Tel: 6389 2200
Tel: 1800 778 7220
(For children aged 7-12)
Helpline: 1800 274 4788
Samaritans of Singapore
Tel: 1800 221 4444
Family Services Centre
Tel: 1800 222 0000
Singapore Association for Mental Health
Tel: 1800 283 7019
To find our more about depression and suicide in Singapore or if you are looking for a pragmatic approach to handling this very serious problem do pick up “Feeling Blue: A Guide to Handling Teenage Depression” by Dr Daniel Fung, Carolyn Kee and Dr Rebecca P Ang. The book retails at $18.50 (before GST) and is available at all major bookstores.
(This article is updated and was originally published on theAsianParent in November 2009).