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July 2023

HIGHEST RECORDED SUICIDE NUMBERS IN SINGAPORE SINCE 2000

Singapore reported a total of 476 suicides in 2022, revealing a concerning rise of 25.9% from 378 in 2021, and the highest recorded suicide deaths since 2000. An increase in suicide deaths across most age groups was observed – particularly among youths and the elderly.

Suicide remained the leading cause of death for youths aged 10-29 for the fourth consecutive year, constituting 38.7% of all deaths within this age group. At the same time, an 11.6% increase in suicide deaths was reflected from the previous year, a rise from 112 to 125.

Notably, individuals aged 70 to 79 registered the highest increase of 60.0% in suicide deaths compared to last year, a rise from 30 to 48.

“Seeing the unprecedented rise in suicide numbers in Singapore is profoundly heartbreaking. This increase paints a picture of the unseen mental distress permeating our society, especially amongst our youths and the elderly. It is crucial that we remain vigilant to the pressing issues that continue to heavily impact mental health, such as social isolation and loneliness. The time is now, to double our efforts in the realm of early detection and to actively encourage a culture of seeking help and watching out for one another”, said Dr Jared Ng, Senior Consultant and Medical Director at Connections MindHealth.

Compared to 2021, Samaritans of Singapore Limited (SOS) observed a 27.0% increase in 2022, for the use of its services comprising the 24-hour Hotline and CareText.

Chief Executive Officer of SOS, Mr Gasper Tan, commented, “While suicide is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including mental health challenges, social pressures, and economic uncertainties, our collective efforts to address these underlying causes must take priority. We recognise the urgency of the situation, and are committed to continue taking proactive steps to address the rising suicide numbers and provide support to those in need.”

Over the years, SOS has introduced multiple efforts and programmes such as ‘Light in the Dark’, a suicide attempters support group and ‘Be A Samaritan’, a first-responder community programme.  Other efforts include collaborating with community partners in widening the safety net and raising awareness aimed at reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking.

“What we need to do as parents, educators, healthcare professionals and community workers, is to continue to join hands to form a safety net to prevent such tragedies. From efforts to improving mental health literacy such as knowing the warning signs of distress and importance of self-care to teaching peer support skills, we must leave no stone unturned. Beyond the knowledge, we should also guide youths on when and where to seek help”, says Dr Ong Say How, Senior Consultant and Chief, Department of Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health.

Mr Tan adds, “Suicide is preventable. 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.”

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