Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Raymond's letter to the press: Tackle rising number of suicide attempts head-on

My letter on the above matter is published in MediaCorp's TODAY Newspaper on Tuesday 9th Oct 2012.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly one million people die from suicide each year. Depression is projected to rank second as a cause of global disability burden by 2020.

While some people may take a critical view, we must understand that those who commit suicide do so because they feel isolated and see death as the only option to end their suffering.

To save lives, they must be given the opportunity to talk openly about their suicidal thoughts. Studies have shown that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide.

It is never easy to understand what pushes so many individuals to take their own lives. But if we show that we care and offer a good support system, it could at least reduce suicide numbers.

Last year, 992 people here, both locals and foreigners, were arrested for attempted suicide, a five-year high. I feel that some measures could be taken to bring down our suicide rates.First, a task force including the police, counsellors, Members of Parliament, psychologists, psychiatrists, as well as ordinary citizens who have overcome attempted suicide and are now leading normal lives, could be formed to tackle the issue.

We should tap those who have overcome attempted suicide so that they may share their life experience with those who may be suicidal.

We should form associations for foreigners to participate in activities, so that they feel welcome, and not lonely. These associations should have a counsellor whom troubled people can approach for assistance.

It should be made known that there is a crisis hotline and that there is always help out there. At the same time, it is better to have professionals reach out to the community. Face-to-face interaction can make a difference in saving lives.

Having on-site systems can ensure that a proper care plan can be put in place for a suicidal person.

To this end, it would be useful for befrienders or volunteers who are trained in crisis management, or have some knowledge of psychology, to keep in close contact with the suicidal person/s once their crisis has passed.

Ultimately, friends can also provide vital support in the recovery process, and we should do all we can to help save and reclaim lives.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

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