11 Mar 2006

More Singaporeans die from suicide than from accidents

P.S. Inserts in brackets and italics are my own comments. Suicide should not be taken lightly as a topic but the way the national press goes on about the issue is just too simplistic and patronistic. Get to the root of the problem. Why are Singaporeans so unhappy to the extent that they want to end their lives?

10 March 2006
Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE : More Singaporeans die committing suicide than from traffic accidents. (now we know our roads are safer, our drivers and pedestrians are more careful and that Singaporeans are smart. At least they know how to off themselves)

This is according to statistics revealed at the 2nd Asia Pacific Suicide Prevention Conference which bring together experts from around the region.

An average of one Singaporean dies from committing suicide every day. (Alarm bells! Who can claim we are a happy nation anymore if so many of us are intent on leaving for the next world? Thats 365 Singaporeans a year, not including the foreigners. Very scary.)

Even then, Singapore's suicide rates are one of the lowest in Asia. (National Press trying to soften the blows? Who are we comparing ourselves to in Asia?)

But what is getting authorities worried is a rising trend of youths committing suicide. (Try caging teenagers up in their homes by slapping them with a 11pm curfew. The problem is more complicated than that.)

Suicide rates among the elderly, on the other hand, have dropped significantly. (Note it reports rates, not actual numbers. Has it dropped significantly inadvertendtly due to more of our youths committing suicide propping up the figures?)

Dr Chia Boon Hock, Psychologist and Suicide Researcher, said: "The older people now are much better off. They have their HDB flats, CPF, they are married, not single, previously you had a old cohort where the elderly are single immigrants. For young suicide.. the level is steady, it is high." (Really Meh? The elderly now more better off?)

Suicide is the second main cause of death among girls under 20 and the third among boys of that age. (I wonder what is the first main cause of death among girls under 20 and what are the first two causes of deaths for boys, which makes me wonder the actual number of youths who die)

Studies show that women are more likely to attempt suicide then men and in Singapore, most of the female teenagers who kill themselves do so because of relationship problems as well as study stress.(Girls watch out!)

At the same time, psychologists also say that those who are single and unemployed are more likely to attempt suicide. (Perhaps a high proportion of those who are single are gays or lesbians who have absolutely no future or rights in this happy RA-RA hetereonormative family society. If you are unemployed, with no social welfare, how to survive???...)

Between the year 2000 and 2004, the number of unemployed males killing themselves were 17 times higher than their employed counterparts. (Males take note.)

The Health Ministry says what is important is that front-line staff like family doctors know how to identify signs that someone has suicidal tendencies.

Dr Alex Su, Head of Emergency Services at the Institute of Mental Health, said: "In Singapore, more than 50 percent of the people, if they were to end their lives, they would have left some form of message before that but unfortunately these messages were being ignored or not taken seriously.

"They may have made some arrangements to give away things that they had, or made some arrangements, as in after their death who will get what things, sometimes they may even release their pets."

"More importantly, they will leave some kind of suicide notes and these are very important things to note and should be taken seriously."

The Institute of Mental Health is currently running courses for family doctors to help them manage mental and suicidal conditions.

But psychologists say what is needed is a national suicide prevention strategy. (National strategy to prevent suicide. World's First I believe! How many more campaigns do we need? Do we need to instill more policing into our already unprivate lives? Watch out for suicidal signs from your neighbours.)

Dr Su said: "Depression is very treatable, you do not have to wait until depression evolves into a severe state, and all things around you have fallen apart, leading up to suicide.

Singapore has also launched a new website offering information and support from qualified professions for people who are depressed.

DepNet is a way for people to discreetly seek help and advice for their problems. - CNA/


pleinelune said...

Typical singaporean response to any problem: campaign! They never think of going to the root of the problem.

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to speculate on why so many of my neighbours might want to top themselves.....freedom of speech anyone?


clyde said...

Whether CNA has mildly implied anything about the general Singaporean youth's suicidal tendencies or not, I still think it's a good idea that the government is making an effort to curb suicides. Unlike their infamous "fat" campaign for school kids that scribbled out 'recess' on fat kids' timetables and replaced it with 'P.E.', the only actions reported in this article are (a) training doctors to spot depression, and (b) offer professional advice on depression via a website. As far as those two go, I don't see anything particularly invasive about it.

Although it would be quite funny to see a new legislation on suicide. i.e.


ycbi said...

This unfortunatly is for once not a typicaly singaporean problem Here in Perth the road toll gets coverage as it makes for such good TV news, A smashed up car has far more impact than some poor youth found with a suicide note . The sad fact is that the beter educated and well off we are all suposed to be the more suicides there are ! Then again how many people care if its only a gay or lesbian suicide ? .

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Anonymous said...

Many Singaporeans seem to live in a fool's paradise. They complain a lot, all the time. They dont realise that the May 6, 2006, showed the very vulnerability of the PAP - that despite all the gangster-styled bullying that Harry Lee and his boys practised on poor James Gomez, they lost both morally and legally. Who did JG intimidate? Wasn't Harry, George Yeo and Wang Kan Seng the bigger culprits of criminal intimidation? Who knows, by 2011, Workers' Party might kick Georgy Podgy Yeo out of parliament and sweep into parliament? And what if BG Lee suffers another 10% drop in AngMoKio GRC and is booted out of office? Effectively, the PAP shd resign since both foreign minister and prime minister have lost the mandate. Now there is an increasingly clamour by those in their 50s to demand that the PAP give them back their CPF at 55 - and not keep it and give it back in drips and draps from 62-82 as $500 annuities per month. Singaporeans must understand that their CPF is their entitlement - they contributed to that fund 'on the promise that the govt release those funds back to them at 55.' A clever constitional lawyer or contract lawyer can sue and get it back. If Singaporeans want greater freedom of expression, an end to this perverse climate of fear they live in - then all I say is - Be Brave, vote for the Workers' Party in Aljunied and Angmokio GRC - and who knows - in 15-20 yrs' time when old Harry is gone and quite dead - you might see a new party in power. But being dumb and silent and stupid and grumblesome and living in fear of Harry is NOT going to get you back your CPF or your freedom. Having lost both my CPF and freedom and living in exile in Australia - I have got nothing to lose. To stay on in Animal Farm - is a recipe for repression, death and suicide.

Colin Vivian White
Freemantle, Australia