More outreach needed to prevent suicides

More needs to be done to reach out and help those who are at risk of suicide (Slight rise in number of suicides last year; July 28).

Suicide is a topic that not many in society are comfortable talking about. There is also a stigma associated with those who grapple with the thought of ending their lives.

The reality is that many are struggling alone.

It is important to have more community help groups or counselling services, and to increase awareness of these channels for those who need help.

Increasing outreach programmes for at-risk individuals, which include both the young and the elderly, is essential, so there can be a discussion on ways that their problems can be addressed and how society can support them.

For the young, it is important that educational institutions and parents are educated to focus on a student's mental well-being.

Stress is a huge factor which might contribute to overwhelming emotions that cause suicidal thoughts to develop.


  • Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

    Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

    Institute Of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222

    Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

    Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

    Tinkle Friend (for primary school-aged children): 1800-274-4788

Therefore, more resources and support from professionals and friends are fundamental in assuring the young that they are not alone in the struggles that they are facing.

As for the elderly, many may grapple with loneliness, depression or feelings of abandonment.

Stepping up volunteer outreach programmes and eldercare is of paramount importance in catering to their needs and looking out for their well-being. Activities could help break the monotony of living alone and give seniors a renewed optimism towards life.

Training should be given to volunteers so that they can approach at-risk individuals with empathy and a listening ear.

To break the stigma of suicide, a non-judgmental and compassionate stance should be adopted when speaking with these individuals and encouraging them to seek help.

The Government should also decriminalise suicide.

Attempting suicide is a person's desperate cry for help. Decriminalising it will allow the person to seek support to address his thoughts and feelings.

Developing a suicide-prevention framework, together with increasing awareness of mental wellness, will allow society to reach out to at-risk individuals to address their problems effectively.

Darren Chan Keng Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'More outreach needed to prevent suicides'. Print Edition | Subscribe