Suicide remains the leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 29 in Singapore as compared to other age groups, secular and non-profit suicide prevention centre the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in a media release on Monday (3 Aug).
In 2019, a total of 400 suicides were reported in Singapore, a rise from the 397 suicides recorded in 2018.
According to SOS, most age groups registered a slight increase in the number of suicide deaths in 2019. The suicide rate dropped slightly to eight deaths per 100,000 Singapore residents, from 8.36 in 2018.
Among the 400 suicides reported in 2019, 71 who killed themselves were youths aged between 20 and 29 years old.
Suicide accounted for one-third of all reported deaths in this age group, the highest compared to all other age groups.
Image source: iStock
More Youths Seeking Help Through Hotline Calls
SOS said that among those who revealed their age, approximately 17 per cent of total calls made to the 24-hour Hotline were from youths between 20 to 29 years old.
The number of calls received from this age group was said to have increased from 3,396 to 4,124 in its previous fiscal year ending March 2019.
37 per cent of the total calls made by this age group were to seek assistance from SOS’ Email Befriending service, an online platform that offers emotional support.
Problems Youths are Facing
SOS said that these individuals often point towards romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health and struggle to manage challenging situations as contributing factors that led to their acute distress.
“While the rise in calls is an encouraging sign that youths are recognising the importance of their mental health and need for early intervention, the high number of suicide deaths in this age group is concerning,” said Mr Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).
“Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help,” he added.
To understand the community’s perception towards suicide, SOS conducted a survey and found that one in three individuals in the 20 to 29 age group will not consider contacting others for help when emotionally overwhelmed.
A total of 2,497 respondents participated in the survey, of which 580 were aged 20 to 29.
For this group, stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier when it comes to seeking help.
“The fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were prominent reasons that surfaced in the survey findings,” it said.
Image source: iStock
SOS Care Text to help those in need
SOS said it has brought forward its new text-based service called the SOS Care Text, to offer help to individuals in distress or contemplating suicide.
This comes after recognising the hesitation these individuals might have when it comes to calling the hotline. The text messaging service can be accessed via the SOS website.
The Circuit Breaker period also saw an increase in the number of calls into the 24-hour Hotline and emails, according to Mr Tan.
He said: “During these trying times, it is crucial that SOS is able to readily provide an alternative form of emotional support while catering to the changing communication preferences of the community.”
Respondents to the SOS survey also indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help.
“In this time when we are physically distanced from one another to stay safe, feelings of loneliness and helplessness may be amplified. It is important for us to show our care and concern for our loved ones by checking in on them periodically,” said Mr Tan.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available.
Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute Of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
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