SINGAPORE: The number of suicides in Singapore for those aged in their 20s remained the highest last year compared to those in other age groups, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said on Monday (Aug 3).
A total of 71 people aged between 20 and 29 killed themselves in 2019.
"Suicide accounts for about one-third of all reported deaths in this age group," the suicide prevention agency said in the media release.
Suicide continued to be the leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 29 last year.
There were 400 reported suicides in 2019, compared with 397 the year before. Most age groups registered a slight increase in the number of suicides, said SOS.
However, the suicide rate for Singapore residents in 2019 dropped to 8.00 per 100,000, down from 8.36 in 2018.
RISE IN HOTLINE CALLS FROM PEOPLE IN THEIR 20S
Of those who revealed their age, people between 20 and 29 years old accounted for approximately 17 per cent of total calls attended to on the SOS 24-hour hotline, said the agency.
"In particular, the number of calls from this age group rose to 4,124, up from 3,396 calls in the previous fiscal year ending March 2019," it added.
Topics such as romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health and struggles managing challenging situations were often cited as contributing factors leading to their clients' acute distress, SOS said.
SOS chief executive Gasper Tan said that while the increase in hotline calls among young people was encouraging, the high number of suicide deaths in this age group was concerning.
"Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help," Mr Tan said.
In a recent survey conducted by SOS, one in three people in their 20s would not consider contacting others for help when emotionally overwhelmed.
"Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group," said SOS.
The fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were also key reasons indicated in the survey.
A total of 2,497 respondents participated in the survey, including 580 participants aged 20 to 29.
In the release, SOS also announced the launch of a text-based hotline service for people who prefer not to speak on the phone.
The text-based service, SOS Care Text, can be accessed via the SOS website.
With the increase in the number of calls and emails during Singapore's "circuit breaker" period, Mr Tan said that it was "crucial that SOS is able to readily provide an alternative form of emotional support".
Respondents to the SOS survey had also indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help.
"In this time when we are physically distanced from one another to stay safe, feelings of loneliness and helplessness may be amplified," Mr Tan added.
"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," he said.
Where to get help: Samaritans of Singapore operates a 24-hour hotline at 1800 221 4444, or you can email pat [at] sos.org.sg. You can also find a list of international helplines here. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.