SOS: Suicide deaths for those aged between 20 and 29 years remain the highest

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) on Monday (3 Aug) revealed that the number of suicide deaths for those aged between 20 and 29 years remains the highest compared to every other age groups.

“In 2019, 71 youths aged between 20 and 29 years took their own lives. Suicide accounts for about one-third of all reported deaths in this age group,” the statement read.

According to SOS, a total of 400 suicides cases were reported in Singapore last year, up from 397 cases in the previous year.

It stated that there was a slight increase in the number of suicide deaths for most age groups in 2019.

Compared to 2018, the suicide deaths have dropped from 8.36 per 100,000 Singapore residents to 8.00 in 2019.

However, SOS said that suicide remains the “leading cause” of death for youths aged between 10 to 29 last year.

“Of those who revealed their age, youths between 20 to 29 years old accounted for approximately 17% of total calls attended to on the 24-hour Hotline, and making up for about 37% of Email Befriending clients,” it noted.

It added that the number of calls from this particular age group had increased to 4,124, up from 3,396 calls in the previous fiscal year ending March 2019.

Given that SOS has interacted with these individuals, it stated that issues such as romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health, and struggles managing challenging situations were often cited by them as “contributing factors” to their acute distress.

Involving a total of 2,497 respondents – of which 580 were aged 20 to 29 – the SOS’s recent survey on the community’s perception towards suicide showed that one in three of the 20s age group will not consider contacting others for help when they are emotionally overwhelmed.

It noted that this age group encountered the “stigmatising beliefs around suicide” that emerged as common barrier for them to seeking help, while “the fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help” appeared as “prominent reasons” in the survey findings.

SOS launches SOS Care Text for its newest text-based service

On top of this, SOS is also aware that some individuals in distress or contemplating suicide hesitated to call the hotline as they prefer another means of communicating – via text messaging.

Hence, it has introduced its newest text-based service, SOS Care Text, reflecting the survey respondents who indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform in seeking help.

SOS’s Chief Executive Gasper Tan also expressed his concerns about the high rate of suicide deaths among the 20s age group, though he recognised that the rise in calls is an encouraging sign that youths are aware of the importance of mental health and the need for early intervention.

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

Citing the increase in the number of calls and emails SOS received during the circuit breaker period, he highlighted the importance of SOS to readily provide an alternative form of emotional support as well as cater to the changing communication preferences of the community.

Mr Tan remarked, “There may be many within our community who are facing their personal challenges silently, unbeknownst to us all. 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. While the journey forward may be tough, this action helps to show that we are willing to walk with them to make this journey a little less intimidating.”

As part of the leading agency in suicide prevention, he also stressed that SOS will continue to “harness these efforts, drawing on the strength, support and network of the community in our programs and outreach”.

If you are in need of a listening ear or help. Call Samaritians of Singapore at 1800 221 4444 or drop SOS an email at [email protected].

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