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Singapore sees sharp rise in suicides in 2022, especially among youth and elderly

Highest recorded suicide deaths since the turn of the century

SINGAPORE – A significant rise in suicide numbers was reported in Singapore last year, marking the highest recorded suicide deaths since the turn of the century.

According to Samaritans of Singapore Limited, a secular, non-profit suicide prevention centre, 476 suicides were reported in 2022, an alarming increase of 25.9% from 378 in 2021.

The spike in suicide deaths was particularly noticeable among youths and the elderly, raising concerns about mental health support for these vulnerable groups.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death among youths aged 10-29 for the fourth consecutive year, accounting for 38.7% of all deaths within this age bracket. The number of suicide deaths within this group rose by 11.6% from the previous year, from 112 to 125.

The increase was most drastic in individuals aged 70 to 79, with a staggering 60.0% rise in suicide deaths from 30 to 48 compared to 2021.

Dr Jared Ng, Senior Consultant and Medical Director at Connections MindHealth, expressed deep concern, stating, “This unprecedented rise in suicide numbers in Singapore paints a picture of the unseen mental distress permeating our society, especially amongst our youths and the elderly. We need to stay alert to pressing issues like social isolation and loneliness that heavily impact mental health and redouble our efforts in early detection and fostering a culture of help-seeking and mutual care.”

SOS also observed a 27.0% increase in usage of its services, including the 24-hour Hotline and CareText, from 2021 to 2022.

The SOS has spearheaded various programmes such as ‘Light in the Dark’, a suicide attempters support group, and ‘Be A Samaritan’, a community programme for first-responders.

They are also working closely with community partners to expand safety nets and reduce stigma associated with seeking help.

Mr Gasper Tan, Chief Executive Officer of SOS, emphasised that tackling the complex issue of suicide, influenced by a myriad of factors like mental health challenges, social pressures, and economic uncertainties, must be prioritised. He affirmed, “We recognise the urgency of the situation, and are committed to proactive steps to address the rising suicide numbers and provide support to those in need.”

Dr Ong Say How, Senior Consultant and Chief, Department of Developmental Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, called for a collective effort to prevent further tragedies. “We need to continue to join hands to form a safety net, improve mental health literacy, and teach peer support skills. Beyond the knowledge, we should also guide youths on when and where to seek help.”

Echoing this sentiment, Mr Tan reinforced that suicide is preventable, and stated, “With the mission to be an available lifeline to anyone in crisis, SOS is dedicated to building an ecosystem of care where every individual feels valued, supported, and empowered to seek help when needed.”

SOS offers emotional support to people in crisis, thinking of suicide, or affected by suicide. All information shared with SOS is treated as confidential and people can choose to remain anonymous.

24-hour Hotline (1-767)
24-hour CareText (WhatsApp 9151 1767)
CareMail ([email protected])

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