SINGAPORE’S SUICIDE RATES DECREASE, YET RISING YOUTH NUMBERS CAUSE FOR CONCERN
In 2021, there was a total of 378 reported suicides in Singapore, a decrease of 16.3% from 2020. A decrease was also observed in suicide mortality among the elderly aged 60 and above – from 154 in 2020 to 112 in 2021. Recognising the impact of the pandemic on mental health, concerted efforts by ministries, mental health sectors and the community have accelerated to advance mental well-being and suicide prevention priorities.
Suicide, however, remains the cause for the highest number of deaths among youths aged 10 to 29 for the past three years. Within this age group, Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) observed the increase from 22.3% in 2020 to 29.6% in 2021, among all suicides recorded across the nation. For youths 10 to 19, suicide has risen by 23.3% from 30 deaths in 2020 to 37 in 2021.
Chief Executive of SOS, Mr Gasper Tan added, “The data shows an overall decrease and is deeply encouraging, a trend we hope will continue. We must, however, not be complacent in our efforts to support individuals in distress, as we continue to see more individuals reaching out for support. Comparing 2020 to 2021, our crisis hotline has seen a 127% increase in calls from youths aged 10 to 19, expressing a strong cry for help that cannot be ignored. This increased demand can also be seen in our text-messaging service which reflects the readiness of our youths in help-seeking.”
“The rising number of young people taking their own lives remains a big concern. Young patients we encountered have been reporting various stressors in their lives, such as interpersonal issues with their family and friends, academic stress, achievement stress and future job stress. Preventing youth suicides thus needs coordination and close collaboration between several relevant sectors of society, including education, social services and health. Certainly, support and guidance from family members and friends remain integral in helping young people navigate through the issues and crises they face in their lives,” says Dr Jared Ng, Senior Consultant and Chief of the Department of Emergency and Crisis Care, Institute of Mental Health.
The alarming rates of suicide among youths calls for continual efforts to enhance and expand current initiatives. SOS has introduced various youth-oriented programmes over the years to provide them with the support they need, as it strives to fulfil its mission of being an available lifeline to anyone in crisis. To this end, suicide prevention is a community-wide effort that involves the support of every one.