Educate the elderly on available avenues of help

When the media reported that the suicide rate among the elderly had increased (Number of suicides among seniors hits record high; July 30), some netizens were quick to blame the Government for a lack of support.

Such misleading comments can create resentment and anger among the public.

There is plenty of support, with the Ministry of Social and Family Development working closely with the Ministry of Health to provide eldercare services.

There are also outings and home visits, ration distributions, counselling, activity centres to keep them occupied, and shelters for those who lack family support.

There is also the Maintenance of Parents Act to compel children to pay their parents allowances.

I feel that the problem is not lack of government support, but a lack of volunteers to educate the elderly on the various avenues of help that are available.

Elder suicide is a complex condition. Identifying the root causes that put people at risk will help in providing quality care.

For example, in the case of seniors who may be feeling hopeless due to social isolation, illness or depression, it might lift their spirits if someone who shares their spiritual belief or religious affiliation talks to them.

They could also be referred to a mental health professional.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Educate the elderly on available avenues of help'. Print Edition | Subscribe