Monday, September 3, 2012

SUICIDES ON THE RISE- Let’s do something about this!

“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
- Martin Luther King Jr-

An 8th decomposed body, believed to be that of a Chinese man in his 30s was found at Bedok Reservoir on Sunday 2nd September 2012. It is really depressing to read of such cases. Let me share some clear insights into how we can resolve these issues, based on my own life experiences, which includes my own attempted suicide in 1995. There are several reasons why people end their lives and it’s mainly because they just don’t know who or where to turn to.  People who lose the will to live could be in debt, have difficulty with failed boy-girl relationships, marital problems, work stress, office politics, finding hard to cope with studies leading to exam stress, unable to secure jobs, struggling to look after a disabled family members etc.  Let us not condemn those who kill themselves or make a joke out of this dreadful situation, but try to find solutions to help these people and their families.  I see humiliation of such suicides on the internet and it's not a nice thing to do.

From my own experience and I counsel a lot of distressed families and patients, many are “lost” when coping with depression or other types of mental illnesses. And we have read about many, some of which includes hoarding problems and bipolar.

One of the best ways to help people cope with the onslaught of stress is to reach out far and wide. Tap the experience of those who have overcome huge adversities in their lives.  Encourage, motivate and inspire those who are struggling to cope.  I go all over Singapore to do this.

I want to reach out to the heartlands through the grassroots leaders, MPs and Mayors, but believe me, it is a daunting task because the hard truth is most people don’t like to discuss mental illness or suicides openly - just sweep the problem under the carpet.

In Australia, when you are suicidal, the professionals come down on site and talk you out of it, get you treated and you are able to cope. I have raised this matter, but no one is receptive to the idea.

The Government wants Singaporeans to change their mindsets, but are they prepared to change themselves? Take for instance the clause on job application forms which makes it a requirement for one to declare if one has a history of mental illness?  Does it mean that if you have depression or other forms of mental illness that you cannot recover and go on to lead perfectly normal lives? So in what way does this declaration help people who are stabilized after psychiatric treatment to find jobs?  I have written to the press on this matter, but no one bothers to reply or change the requirement that can so easily help patients find jobs and not be discrminated against.  Bottom line-We need enlightened employers.

MOS Madam Halimah Yacob in her maiden National Day Rally speech 2012 called on all everyone to give people second chances.  Yet, are people with mental illness given second chances because of this outdated clause on the job application forms   This requirement was handed down from the colonial times, but with changing patterns, the Government also has to adapt to change.   All that is needed is for a certified psychiatrist to give a letter confirming that the patient is responding well to treatment and able to work. 

Thank you.


Raymond Anthony Fernando



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