Seven in 10 who commit suicide are men: SOS

Seven out of every 10 people who killed themselves last year were men, underscoring the need for men to seek help when faced with a crisis.
Seven out of every 10 people who killed themselves last year were men, underscoring the need for men to seek help when faced with a crisis.PHOTO: SAMARITANS OF SINGAPORE

Rate is even higher for those aged 60 to 69, where men account for eight in 10 such deaths

Seven out of every 10 people who killed themselves last year were men, underscoring the need for men to seek help when faced with a crisis.

The problem is even more stark with older men. Among those aged between 60 and 69, men accounted for eight in 10 suicides, according to a report by the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) released yesterday. Men are less likely to seek help for problems that they are facing, said SOS executive director Christine Wong.

"(Men) feel the continuous pressure to solve issues faced on their own, and suppress feelings of distress," she said.

"Help-seeking is often associated with loss of status... loss of control and autonomy, and incompetence."Last year, there were 415 suicides, compared with 422 in 2013.

More men are dying by suicide compared with a decade ago, said SOS, whereas the corresponding number for women is shrinking.

  • HOW TO HELP THOSE AT RISK

  • If you are worried that someone close to you is thinking about suicide, you should:

    Show that you care and be there for the person

    Ask them openly and directly if they are thinking of harming or killing themselves

    Be accepting, patient and gentle

    Check if the person has professional help, and help them make any necessary arrangements or accompany them to see a counsellor or doctor

    Hotline: 1800-221-4444

    E-mail: pat@sos.org.sg

    SOURCE: SAMARITANS OF SINGAPORE

In 2004, 227 men and 154 women committed suicide. Last year, 292 men and 123 women did so. Unlike men, women are more likely to seek professional help when needed, said the suicide prevention centre.

Most people who seek help at SOS are female, noted Ms Wong. This includes those who undergo counselling, attend support groups for suicide survivors, or seek help after they have lost a loved one to suicide.

"Females are more prone to seeking help, which is good," said consultant psychiatrist Ken Ung of Adam Road Medical Centre.

"Men tend to be more reluctant to talk about their problems."

Problems such as loneliness and mental health issues were common to both men and women who contacted SOS, Ms Wong said.

However, many men faced issues with debt or unemployment, while more women struggled with problems at home. Dr Ung added that the pattern of suicide among seniors is not surprising. "Traditionally, suicide is more common in elderly males," he said. "This is something we see worldwide."

Psychiatrist Lim Boon Leng of Gleneagles Hospital added that this could be because men of that generation are less likely to have interests and hobbies outside of work.

"People of yesteryear really put their life and heart into work," he said. "When they retire, they might find themselves suddenly at a loss. They may not have a proper social support network, and have nothing to fall back on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Seven in 10 who commit suicide are men: SOS'. Print Edition | Subscribe