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SOS: Teens’ suicide due to depression, at its highest in 15 years

The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has highlighted that teens’ suicide hiked this year, despite the fact that the the overall suicide rate in Singapore had decreased.

It said that more than two young people aged 10 to 19 committed sucide in every month last year which come to a total of 27 cases, which was twice as many as the year before and the highest in 15 years.

Executive Director of SOS, Ms Christine Wong, expressed her concern, “Although some other countries in the region with a similar societal structure as Singapore see a greater number of teen and youth suicides, this should be a strong sign for the relevant organisations working with youth here to work even more closely with SOS in our efforts to reach out to them.”

Source : SOS.
Source : SOS.

SOS, which was established on 1 December 1969, is a secular non-profit organisation which provides 24-hour confidential emotional support to people who have difficulty to cope during a crisis, who are thinking of suicide or affected by suicide.

During the year of 2015, there were 409 cases of suicide reported, which is the lowest since 2012.

Source : SOS.
Source : SOS.

SOS’s report also highlighted that the numbers of male suicides were almost the double of females’.

Source : SOS.
Source : SOS.

The annual report by SOS stated that nearly half of the suicidal clients who need crisis support were between 10 and 29 years old. There were 143 people who went to counsellings, 59 of which were between 10 and 29 years old.

It reported that for clients who were below the age of 30, more than 25% reported feeling troubled over their studies, as well as their relationships at school. Students typically shared their worries over studies in periods leading up to major exams, and those prior to the release of exam results.

SOS said that from its contact with suicidal youths, it notes that suicide risk increases when there are predisposing vulnerabilities such as mental health issues and external stressors coming from the home and study environment. All these can overwhelm at-risk teens who are already struggling to cope with the challenges of adolescence.

Source : SOS.
Source : SOS.

39 percent of those who were depressed was said to be psychological problems, such as suicide grief, grief from other losses, addiction to gambling/ alcohol, and other mental health issues. While 31 percent of them were experiencing marital, family, romantic, and other types of relationships problems, such as work or school related. 18 percent of them were having difficulties in coping with loneliness and isolation, studies, pregnancy, old age, and caregiving issues.

8 percent were concerned with employment and accommodation problems, debts, and legal difficulties. 3 percent were having problems with health, medical problems, and concerns over physique/appearance. The last 1 percent, was due to sexual heath and sexual identity issues.

Source : SOS.
Source : SOS.

Earllier this year, a 13-year-old boy, Ng Teck Kiat was found dead in his school uniform at the foot of an HDB block in Jelebu Road in Bukit Panjang on 23 March.

On 18 May 2016, an 11-year old boy committed suicide by jumping off a block at 470A Fernvale Link. It was said that the boy was supposed to go to school to collect his exam papers so that his parents can acknowledge his results and sign on it.

The New Paper also reported ast month that two Junior College (JC) students committed suicide in just within 10 days of each other. Both of them were A-level students, one in the first year and the other in the second year.

It is said that students in Singapore have one of the highest levels of stress in the world due to a highly competitive education. This can be clearly shown by its tuition industry that is worth more than $1 billion in such a small country.

Even though the Ministry of Education (MOE) has done away with PSLE scoring system, this has done little to reduce the level of stress in students, given the merciless streaming system of the education system and the emphasis of success in one’s education.

According to Experts LifeStyle, there are some warning signs for suicide, which include :

  • Displays an abrupt change in temperament.
  • Becomes more withdrawn.
  • Loses interest in activities he/she used to enjoy.
  • Becomes aggressive towards others.
  • Seems emotional, depressed, moody, irritable or scared most of the time.
  • Experiences a loss of appetite.
  • Feels anxious and restless.
  • No longer sleeps well.
  • Refuses to attend school, or his/her school results plummet for no apparent reason.
  • Expresses abnormal and negative thoughts such as suicide.

Web MD also said that parents should also recognise the signs of depression, which may lead to suicidal behaviour :

  • Feeling sad, empty, or tearful nearly every day.
  • Loss of interest in activities that were enjoyed in the past.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating.
  • Complaints of continued boredom.
  • Complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue with no actual physical problems.
  • Expressions of guilt and/or not allowing anyone to give him or her praise or rewards.

According to Health Promotion Board Singapore, there are things people can do to manage the stress. Those are :

  • Spread out the changes in life.
  • Plan time well.
  • Be realistic about what you can do.
  • Think positive.
  • Make some time for yourselves.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Stay physically healthy.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques.
  • Have a healthy diet.
  • Get enough sleep.

If members of public should feel that help is needed for emotional support, please email [email protected] Pat will respond to your email within two working days. If you are feeling suicidal or needing to talk urgently, please call our 24-hour hotline 1800- 221 4444. Your call will be answered by a trained volunteer.