Conversation on depression long overdue

The deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, both apparently from suicide, have been spoken about loudly and with great grief (Fashion designer Kate Spade found dead, June 6; and Food celebrity Anthony Bourdain found dead, June 9).

However, when a young student or an old retired man dies by suicide, there appears to be an unwritten consensus in Singapore not to speak too much of it.

Although the topic of depression and suicide due to depression is difficult to discuss, it needs to be talked about.

There is a need to highlight and bring awareness to the problems which depression can cause. Attention also needs to be brought to the community mental health services that depression sufferers need.

Social service organisations such as the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) seek to rehabilitate and reintegrate those with mental illness, helping them to return to work and live normal productive lives within society.

It is also crucial that Singaporeans work together to build up the physical, emotional and mental resilience of our young people, and help them face the increasing stressors in their lives and build resilience.

For example, SAMH's Creative SAY programme provides a safe haven for young people to freely express their emotional problems, see the good in life and connect with their emotions in a healthy way.

The need to start a conversation with at-risk young people is long overdue.

Derrick Yeo Kuan (Dr)

Board member

Singapore Association for Mental Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2018, with the headline 'Conversation on depression long overdue'. Print Edition | Subscribe