According to the World Health Organisation, suicide rates were highest among the elderly last year, and the rate is projected to increase as the elderly population in Singapore rises (Number of suicides among seniors hits record high; July 30).
Yet, the prevention of such a tragedy is a much-neglected area.
The authorities should convene a task force and engage key stakeholders to help prevent and respond to elderly suicide through crisis-handling and resilience-improvement systems, education, information, skills, support and services.
In particular, they should focus on those who have manifested signs of suicidal tendencies as well as those belonging to high-risk and vulnerable groups, such as those suffering from chronic physical and mental illnesses and stresses, bereavement, and lifestyle and functional impairments.
There should be a comprehensive review of the current systems for preventing suicides at every level of society and for all age groups. This should include improving the codes of conduct for the coverage of such cases by the online and print media.
Every person lost through suicide casts a dark shadow on our country and is the responsibility of all Singaporeans.
Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)
Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute Of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928