Less stressful environment helps prevent suicide risk

I agree that more can and should be done to extend care and counsel to suicidal individuals (More outreach needed to prevent suicides, by Mr Darren Chan Keng Leong; July 31).

An effective suicide prevention framework must not only respond to cases of individuals already in need, but also target the underlying trigger factors that drive individuals to contemplate suicide in the first place.

While the reasons for suicide can be numerous, we can draw a broad correlation between suicide risk and an individual's perceived quality of life.

In this respect, the cut-throat competition and individualism that underpin virtually all aspects of Singapore society - from the classroom to the corporate office - do no favours to the vulnerable.

Therefore, the best means of preventing suicide is arguably a paradigm shift in our collective values and priorities.

This would no doubt be extremely difficult to achieve, but it is possible, with coordinated effort.

The cut-throat competition and individualism that underpin virtually all aspects of Singapore society - from the classroom to the corporate office - do no favours to the vulnerable.

Removing the stigma associated with suicide and other mental health issues is contingent on public generosity and inclusiveness.

Stronger institutional support and public policy adjustments can help create a less stressful social environment.

The importance of the family unit cannot be discounted either. Genuine care and unconditional love from parents would go a long way towards easing the pressure experienced by youngsters, one of the groups most at risk.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Less stressful environment helps prevent suicide risk'. Print Edition | Subscribe