Suicide numbers highest in past 20 years

Singapore's suicide numbers last year were the highest in at least the past 20 years.

There were 467 suicides in 2012, up from 361 in 2011, almost a 30 percent increase.

The most significant increase comes from the 20 to 29 age group. Suicide deaths among this group rose from 46 in 2011 to 83 in 2012, an 80 per cent increase.

Suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said 95 people in their twenties were referred to it for attempting suicide, an increase of 39 per cent from 2011.

"People in their twenties are exploring their identity, discovering new responsibilities and building their career and family, all of which can be very stressful," said executive director Christine Wong.

The community plays an important role in destigmatising suicide, she said. Friends and family should let loved ones know that it is okay to talk about suicidal feelings. They should also encourage help-seeking behaviour, she added.

Youths deserve special attention as they may hide their pain behind a facade, not knowing where, how or who they can approach for help, Ms Wang added.

SOS will be organising an outreach programme which invites youths 10 to 30 to send letters about their struggles to unhidingthehidden@samaritans.org.sg. Selected letters will be published at an exhibition in Vivocity from 10 to 16 September in conjunction with World Suicide Day.

The SOS helpline is 1800-221 4444.