Male teen suicide cases in S'pore highest in 28 years

However, more youths are seeking help today.

Joshua Lee | July 29, 2019, 01:45 PM

Reported suicides increased by 10 per cent in 2018, according to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), a non-profit suicide prevention centre.

There were 397 cases of reported suicides in Singapore in 2018, compared to 361 cases in 2017. At least 70 per cent of these are by men.

Highest number of male teen suicide in 28 years

Except for those aged 60 and above, every age group registered an increase in the number of suicides in 2018 from the previous year.

In particular, SOS highlighted suicide among male teenagers (aged 10 to 29) as a "significant societal concern"

The number of suicide cases for this age group -- 19 deaths in 2018 -- peaked at its highest since 1991.

It is also a 170 per cent increase from seven deaths in 2017.

More youths seeking help

More youths are seeking help for suicide-related matters.

In the fiscal year ending March 2019, SOS reported an increase of more than 56 per cent in the number of youth clients who wrote to its Email Befriending service which provides emotional support for those in distress.

Youths aged 10 to 29 make up more than 78 per cent of clients who write in to the Email Befriending service.

Despite the higher number of reported male teen suicides, this group makes up only 30 per cent of incoming calls and about 27 per cent of Email Befriending clients.

SOS said in a press release that this could be due to societal expectations of men:

"SOS opined that societal stereotypes that demand men be tough and are able to handle all challenges thrown at them, could be one of the barriers for male teenagers to seek help."

Supportive and encouraging environment needed

According to Wong Lai Chun, Senior Assistant Director of SOS, youths today have "greater awareness of the moments when they feel alone and helpless" and are willing to seek help and support from various avenues like support services, social media, and peers.

However, SOS added that our current pursuit of material and professional success may be a hindrance to our social support:

"Placing material possessions above friendships and relationships creates distance in friendships and weakens one’s support system over time."

"We need to educate the public to understand that a supportive and encouraging environment is far more beneficial than a judgemental one for our society,” said Wong.

Support hotlines for those seeking help

If you or someone you know are in mental distress, here are some hotlines you can call to seek help, advice, or just have a listening ear:

  • 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

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