Friday, July 19, 2013

Form a task force to bring the stress and suicide rates down - By Raymond Anthony Fernando

I refer to Saturday’s report in MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper, “More young people committed suicide last year.”

Given the stressful lifestyles which many of us are faced with in our daily lives, I am not at all surprised that the suicide rates have gone up.   

The World Health Organization had predicted that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, trailing only ischemic heart disease.  I highlighted this is a press letter in 2004, but how many people took me seriously.

These days practically everybody is in a mad rush as the pace of life gets faster and faster.  Just take the MRT in the morning and you’ll find evidence of this. 

Experts believe that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide.  People who are suicidal may not ask for help for fear of losing face.  They often choose this route because they want to end their sufferings, which to most of them, can be unbearable. 

People who are suicidal suffer from depression and are in dire need of help.  But even though depression is the easiest of all mental illnesses to treat more than 50% of them do not seek treatment due to the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. 

Loneliness and a feeling of being uncared makes the stressed out suicidal person give up on life. I was in that predicament in 1995 when I survived a suicide attempt over heavy caregiving responsibilities and work stress, so I relate very well to such incidents.  

Sometimes all the suicidal person needs is a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and every one of us can play a part in supporting those that are pushed into a dark corner. Giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt. 

Factors that contribute to stress include: office politics, pollution, overcrowding, excessive noise, financial problems, work and exam stress, high cost of living, relationship problems, and heavy caregiving responsibilities.

Several readers have written to the newspapers highlighting noise pollution that is causing disruption to their lives and yet this problem still persists. How can anyone who slogs day and night to bring home the bacon get any peace of mind under such circumstances? When we don’t have peace, chances are we’ll be in pieces because we’ll be distracted by our worries, our anxieties and our fears. 

What is also clearing lacking here is a strong supporting system that helps patients suffering from chronic illnesses and their caregivers cope with a hectic lifestyle such as ours. 

To address the stress and suicides that are coming on-stream, it is timely that the Government sets up a task force to address these pressing issues. While it is necessary to look at economic gains, we should also focus on peoples' emotional gains. 





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