Any death by suicide is one too many.
Recent reports of high-profile suicides of K-pop idols (Dark side of K-pop, Dec 1) and a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) national serviceman underscore the need for greater effort towards suicide prevention. There is an urgent need to plug gaps in suicide prevention and create compassionate conversations to remove the stigma of mental illness.
Our children have been lost to suicide. The youngest was 11 years old.
We ask the Government to take a hard look at gaps in our current system and strengthen the national response for suicide prevention. We welcome the enhanced SCDF support system for distressed national servicemen, but it must not take another suicide to be an impetus for change (SCDF boosts support system for NSFs needing more help to adjust, Nov 30).
While depression and mental illnesses are major risk factors in suicides, the act of killing oneself is also a tragic response to stressful conditions - in schools, army camps, work places, homes and relationships.
Root causes of suicide are many and complex, involving medical, psychological, societal and cultural dimensions.
Government ministries and agencies such as the National Council of Social Service, Institute of Mental Health and Health Promotion Board must work together with community partners to review current strategies.
Input can be given to policymakers and support organisations to improve suicide prevention efforts, especially youth suicides, now the leading cause of death for the 10 to 29 age group.
Despite a range of treatment and support services being available, the system is still very much fragmented.
We have received many calls asking for help and advice - both from young people and parents - on avenues for counselling, psychotherapy and psychiatric help. There appears to be limited knowledge on how to seek help.
We have identified some gaps and measures to consider:
· Make it more seamless to navigate support services.
· Improve effectiveness of school counselling and intervention programmes such as reviewing the student-counsellor ratio for better support of at-risk students.
· Have adequate after-intervention support to prevent suicides.
· Have responsible prescription of anti-depressants in view of the stimulant effects causing increased suicidal thoughts.
We urge the Government to take the lead in developing a comprehensive multi-sectoral suicide prevention strategy to save precious lives.
Valerie Lim Nyuk Eun