It is a worrying concern that our youth are increasingly finding life meaningless.
Youths who are in a crisis often share their struggles and anxieties with peers who may not be well equipped to counsel and advice them.
Some of those who read worrying threads posted on social media can be insensitive or may lack education on mental health issues and therefore pass unkind or ignorant comments that can push troubled youths to end their lives.
As a staunch mental health advocate and a volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), I always intervene on insensitive postings and strive to raise awareness of the distressed one’s state instead.
The negative threads usually cease after that, and I find that this is just one way we can change perceptions and save lives.
I follow closely the reports and stories published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which has its head quarters in America. They produce excellent programmes and services that have helped thousands of Americans.
Recently, they came up with a brilliant idea on how texting through mobile phones can help those who are suicidal.
NAMI reported that in the U.S.A., teenagers send an average of 100 texts per day—3,100 per month. It’s a concise, direct form of communication that helps contain emotional situations. It doesn’t put anyone on the spot or demand immediate answers.
The success of the programme can be seen in how hundreds of thousands of teenagers have used Crisis Text Line for 24/7 crisis interventions in the last 3 years. The average exchange lasts about an hour, or if there’s a risk of suicide, as long as necessary.
Such a unique service can be most helpful to our own youths here in Singapore, who are constantly on their phones.
Let us learn from success stories and provide better structural support for the mentally ill or distressed.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO