Suicide killed more young Singaporeans than anything else last year: SOS

Graphic from a suicide prevention campaign. Image: Samaritans of Singapore/Facebook
Graphic from a suicide prevention campaign. Image: Samaritans of Singapore/Facebook

Suicide remains the leading cause of death for young Singaporeans, and most of the 400 people who took their lives last year were in their 20s, Samaritans of Singapore announced today. 

About a third of all deaths of those 20 to 29 were suicides, more than in any other age group, according to the nonprofit. While the total was on par with the 397 suicides of 2018, the group, aka SOS, said calls to its hotline increased by more than 700 to 4,124. 

“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,” Chief Executive Gasper Tan said in a statement. “Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help.”

Individuals at risk of suicide are usually under emotional distress relating their struggles with romantic relationships, mental health and other challenging situations, according to SOS.

Though the report comes eight months into 2020, there is not yet any public data for the year. SOS was forced to temporarily close its call center earlier this year due to the pandemic, when counseling and psychology were deemed non-essential services by the government. A National Care Hotline was established for those seeking emotional support.

Callers flood hotline set up to help Singaporeans in crisis

Citing its recent survey, SOS; which provides emotional support by phone, email and SMS; said those in their twenties tend to avoid seeking help when they feel emotionally overwhelmed as many are concerned it could affect their ego or cause them to feel helpless.

“Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group,” SOS said. “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.”

If you or someone you know needs help for mental health-related issues, there are several hotline services available.

Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour): 1800-221-4444

National CARE Hotline: 1800-202-6868

Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg

Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222

Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445-0400

Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

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