SINGAPORE: Despite a decline in the suicide rate last year, the number of teenage suicides rose to the highest in recent years, according to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).
There were 409 suicides last year, down from 415 in 2014 and 422 in 2013. The suicide rate was 8.43, the lowest since a spike in 2012, the non-profit suicide prevention centre said on Monday (Jul 25).
In the 10 to 19 age group, there were 27 suicides last year – double the number for this age group from the previous year, SOS said.
Among calls received on SOS’ suicide prevention hotline where callers disclosed their age, 9 per cent belonged to this age group last year, an increase from 1.5 per cent in 2012. The most common stressors cited by this group included mental health issues, academic pressure and relationship problems at home and in school, SOS said.
“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,” it said.
RELUCTANCE TO GET HELP
There is also a reluctance among young people to get help and support from their family when they are going through a crisis, SOS said.
“While this could be in part caused by a lack of connection in some families, teenagers in this age group also appear to experience difficulties sharing about their struggles. Many expressed their fear of being judged, as well as of the reactions they may receive from family members.
“The inability to share their innermost thoughts and feelings can make the crisis they are facing seem even more insurmountable, increasing their sense of helplessness and loss of self-esteem,” it said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for emotional support.
Care Corner Counselling Centre provides counselling in Mandarin and personality assessment. They can be reached at 1800-353 5800. Com Care Call is also a 24-hour toll-free helpline for Singaporeans to access social services, and can be reached at 1800-222 0000.