New digital campaign to help youth with thoughts of suicide

The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign was launched on May 18 and will run until the end of August.
The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign was launched on May 18 and will run until the end of August.PHOTO: SAMARITANS OF SINGAPORE
The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign was launched on May 18 and will run until the end of August.
The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign was launched on May 18 and will run until the end of August.PHOTO: SAMARITANS OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - A new digital campaign will ask young people to reflect before they post content on social media, among other guidelines it will provide on how to identify and help individuals harbouring thoughts of suicide.

Suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) aims to reach about 75,000 users with the three-month initiative.

The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign was launched on May 18 and will run until the end of August.

In the three months, SOS will release bite-sized educational tips such as thinking about possible outcomes before posting content about suicide, and how to safely respond to suicide-related content. SOS said the campaign is remind young people to think about their intention and how best to communicate before they post, as well as to improve their awareness of the appropriate language to use.

It is also developing a curriculum and plans to train 300 young people to look out for their own mental health and safely engage young people online.

Temasek Foundation has pledged $250,000 for the training curriculum, which will be implemented later this year.

SOS and the foundation plan to offer one-hour virtual forum sessions and work with educational institutions such as secondary schools, junior colleges and polytechnics to offer 2½-hour workshops.

The initiative comes after SOS recorded more than 4,600 texts sent to its text messaging service Care Text between last July, when it was launched, and March this year. Of those, 82 per cent were from individuals aged 10 to 29. And about 70 per cent of them had not used other SOS services before.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in Singapore for those aged 10 to 29. In 2019, there were 400 suicides reported - of which nearly a quarter or 94 were young people in that age group.

SOS chief executive Gasper Tan said: "Encouraging a 'pause' to think before you speak is the first step in learning how to discuss suicide safely and reminds people to reflect about the consequences of their words before acting.

"It is even more pertinent now, especially as we live in a hyper-connected world where speed and efficiency are of the essence, and we often find ourselves rushing to respond or comment to posts.

"Everyone has a proactive part to play in suicide prevention. We hope that #chatsafe can be part of the solution and form an important part of upstream education on suicide situations, empowering youths to create positive behaviour and mindset change when talking about suicide online."

The #PauseBeforeYouPost campaign is based on a similar social media campaign held in Australia in 2018. Guidelines for the Australian campaign - first developed by Australian charity Orygen - have been downloaded about 50,000 times since publication.

The Singaporean version of the guidelines was updated to include local helpline information and specific social media content for Singaporean users.

Noting that social media was an important platform for young people to receive and offer help, Orygen's head of suicide prevention Jo Robinson said: "We also recognise that there is the potential for some kinds of suicide-related content to be distressing or even harmful to others. We are glad to be able to partner with SOS and bring the guidelines to Singapore, helping young people talk safely about their own experiences with suicide and to help them help each other."

Helplines

Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221-4444 (24 hours)
Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
TOUCHline: 1800 377-2252 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)