By Sonia Ramachandran
KUALA LUMPUR: Suicide rates in Malaysia are on the rise.
According to the National Suicide Registry Malaysia's (NSRM) website, there were 445 suicides as of last Friday. Of the number, 398 were Malaysians.
Of the 445, 347 were men and 98 women. The highest number of suicides occurred in those between 30 and 39 years old (109 cases), followed by those in the 20 to 29 age bracket (108 cases).
The Health Ministry also reported that every day, seven people, mainly youths and young adults, end their own lives. An estimated 140 people attempt suicide daily.
The NRSM Annual Report 2008 stated that there were 290 suicides in that year, of which 249 were Malaysians.
Of the 290, 219 were men and 71 women, with Chinese making up the majority (53.5 per cent), followed by Indians (27.3 per cent) and Malays (13.9 per cent).
The youngest person who committed suicide in that year was 12 years old and the oldest, 83.
Most of the suicides took place at home.
HELP University College senior lecturer and academic head of master's in counselling programme Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan said at least four out of 10 patients she counselled were suicidal.
"They imagine killing themselves, their funeral process, what they wear, the people grieving and what the world would be like without them."
However, she added that not all those with suicidal thoughts actually ended their own lives.
"It is, nevertheless, a warning sign that should not be ignored."
The Befrienders Kuala Lumpur received 388 emails and 3,853 calls last year from suicidal people.
The National Council of Befrienders Malaysia president S. Gangadara Vadivel said the numbers showed it was time to hit the panic button.
"The suicide numbers are greater than deaths due to H1N1 or dengue.
"There is a great need for Befrienders, the Health Ministry, non-governmental organisations, religious organisations and educational institutions to network towards creating awareness for mental health and suicide-prevention."
Gangadara said many of the callers were in the 20 to 30 age group.
He said the Befrienders had begun an outreach programme for high-risk groups, namely those between 16 and 25, plantation workers and senior citizens.
"I believe there are lots more people in despair and in need of emotional support. There is a great need to create awareness.
"Often, suicidal people make statements like 'I want to sleep forever', 'There is no tomorrow for me', 'I can't take it anymore', 'Life has become unbearable', 'I am going on a long journey and not coming back', or the person may suddenly start giving away prized possessions.
"Family members, friends and teachers can be trained to recognise these warning signs and to respond appropriately."
|Samaritans of Singapore (SOS):
|Singapore Association for Mental Health:
|Sage Counselling Centre:
|Care Corner Mandarin Counselling:
|Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (for those in Malaysia):