SINGAPORE - The number of suicide deaths reached an all-time high of 467 in 2012, an increase of 29 per cent from 2011.
In 2011, there were 361 suicide deaths and the national suicide rate was 8.13 per 100,000 thousand resident population. In 2012, the national suicide rate increased to 10.27 per 100,000 thousand resident population.
And according to these numbers provided by the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), the most significant increase came from the age group 20 to 29. In this age group, the number of suicide deaths rose from 46 in 2011 to 83 in 2012.
From January to December 2012, SOS received 27 referrals of suicide deaths of people aged 20 to 29 through its Local Outreach to Suicide Survivor (LOSS) programme which provides support to bereaved family members.
Ninety-five people in their twenties were also referred to SOS for attempted suicide, an increase of 38 per cent from 69 in 2011.
Thirty-four per cent of those who called the hotline and gave their age were aged 20 to 29, and 36 per cent of those who emailed for help fell into this age range. More than 60 per cent of email writers in this age group expressed suicidal thoughts at some point.
Common problems presented by this age group include stressful life events and interpersonal relationship issues. Examples include unemployment, stress with studies or work, financial worries, family life, struggles with social interactions and feelings of loneliness, SOS said.
Suicide is rarely due to a single event but often results from a series of interrelated social, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, SOS said.
"People in their twenties are exploring their identity, discovering new responsibilities, and building their career and their family, all of which can be very stressful," said Ms Christine Wong, Executive Director of SOS.
As to what can be done to prevent more youth suicides, Ms Wong highlighted the important role of the community in de-stigmatising suicide. This can be achieved by letting their loved ones know that it is okay to talk about distressing thoughts or suicidal feelings, and by encouraging them to seek help.
"It is often difficult for people to talk about their struggles and to express the pain they are feeling inside. People around them may not be aware of their distress and are hence unable to provide the support needed," Ms Wong said.
She further noted that this can be particularly more so with young people who tend to hide their pain behind a facade and who don't know where or how to get help.
SOS is organising a community awareness project Unhiding the Hidden: How I'm Coping Inside to raise awareness of the struggles of the youths and to encourage them to share how they are coping.
Youths aged between 10 and 30 are invited to send an email to email@example.com. Selected letters sent to this email address may be published at an exhibition at Vivocity from September 10 to 16 in conjunction with the World Suicide Prevention Day.
More information about the project can be found at www.sos.org.sg.
People who need confidential emotional support can call the SOS hotline at 1800-221-4444 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOS assured members of the public that whatever is shared through the SOS hotline and email befriending service will be kept confidential and will not be used for this community project.
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800 - 221-4444
Family Service Centre: 1800-838-0100
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
For the elderly
Seniors Helpline: 1800-555-5555
For Mandarin speakers
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800
For youths and children
Touchline (Touch Youth Service): 1800-377-2252
Tinkle Friend: Children can call 1800- 274-4788 on weekdays