My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Monday 1st August 2016.
I agree with Madam Catherine Soh that the Ministry of Education (MOE) should introduce programmes that will equip students with skills to stay resilient (“Teach students basic counselling, stress-coping skills”; July 29).
The rise in teenage suicides is an unhealthy trend and, left unchecked, will not only cause anxiety in parents and educators, but also increase the workload of mental health care providers, the police and the courts (“Teen suicides ‘highest in 15 years but overall rate falls’”; July 26).
It is important to remember that caregivers – in this case, the teens’ parents – are themselves vulnerable to falling into depression.
Undoubtedly, teens going through life’s journey will have to grapple with relationship issues – be it with their parents or the opposite sex – stress over getting good grades and stay resilient in a fast-paced society such as ours.
Sometimes, teens do not communicate with their parents, either because their parents hardly spend time with them or because they find it hard to relate to them.
The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has taken the right step by equipping staff at the SOS Services and Training Centre to help our young people.
Suicide survivors who have overcome adversity and rebuilt their lives, as well as resilient caregivers who have helped their loved ones coping with mental health issues to a full recovery, can be an inspiration to our troubled youngsters and their parents.
To this end, I urge the SOS, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to invite suicide survivors as well as caregivers to share their experience through talks and workshops.
At the end of the day, people must be able to see recovery and learn that despite challenges we all face, life must be valued at all times.
In addition, the caregiving journey, though arduous, must be treated as a noble task, and never a burden.
Raymond Anthony Fernando