High prevalence of suicide in older adults aged 50 and above: SOS

High prevalence of suicide in older adults aged 50 and above: SOS

SINGAPORE:  Older adults aged 50 and above are a worry for suicide risk in Singapore, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in a news release on Monday (Jul 31).

This group accounted for 46 per cent of suicides last year, with 197 deaths – a 19 per cent increase from 166 in 2015. Adults in this age range sometimes fall under the "sandwich generation" who care for both children and ageing parents at the same time, SOS said. 

For 2016, the total number of reported suicides in Singapore was 429 cases, an increase of 20 from a year earlier.


For the past five years, around 30 to 33 per cent of calls received on the SOS 24-hour hotline were from callers in the 50-and-above age group, SOS said. Stressors cited by these callers include employment issues, financial worries, family relationships, mental health, physical and psychological impairment and chronic health problems.

Males in their fifties are especially vulnerable, as they "experience significant life changes" and transitions, such as retrenchment, financial issues and retirement, the group said. Unlike females who tend to be more receptive in seeking help, males are more likely to shun this behaviour, said SOS. 

Struggles both genders face in the later years include the loss of family and friends, debilitating physical health problems and a loss of independence. As a result of feeling overwhelmed by such life situations, many experience "a sort of tunnel vision and believing suicide is the only way out", said SOS. 


Suicides among those aged 20 to 29 are also a concern, highlighted SOS. In 2016, 77 young adults took their own lives.

"This works out to more than six (deaths) per month, the highest number of deaths among all other age groups," SOS said.

Stressors cited include studies or work, unemployment, financial worries, family life, struggles with social interactions and feelings of loneliness. 

Those in distress and who need to talk about their struggles can call the 24-hour SOS hotline at 1800-221 4444 to speak to a volunteer, or email pat@sos.org.sg for emotional support.

Source: CNA/ad