Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Education helped brilliant self-taught Malawian the ability to build a windmill from junk and brings power to his village




Challenge with all your might, think ‘out of the box’ and never stop learning. These positive traits have earned praises for Malawian teenager William Kamkwamba who has discovered that education is foundational!

Kamkwamba was a simple farmer who had not seen a computer nor certainly not many white people in his life. But that did not prevent him from pushing boundaries, reaching for the stars – to create his inventions that has made lives better for the people in his village. 

Yet his brilliant inventions were blacked out by the media. Why?   Many of us, awed by Kamkwamba’s creativity and sheer brilliance were stunned that the media had bot accorded due recognition to this young man.  

 

Bouquets to Ted Talks and Video for airing his story as more and more people who believe in Kamkwamba;s creations have started posting his story.

A little background into this young lad. 

Due to severe famine in 2001, Kamkwamba’s family were so poor that they could not afford to fork out the $80 in annual school fees   That resulted in the teen being forced to drop out of school a few months into his freshman year. For five years he was unable to go to school.

Starting at 14, rather than accept his fate, William started borrowing books from a small community lending library located at his former primary school. He borrowed an 8th-grade American textbook, “Using Energy: which depicted wind turbines on its cover.

He decided to build a windmill to power his family’s home and obviate the need for kerosene, which provided only smoky, flickering, distant and expensive light after dark.

First, he built a prototype using a radio motor, then his initial 5-meter windmill out of a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. After hooking the windmill to a car battery for storage, William was able to power four light bulbs and charge neighbors’ mobile phones. This system was even equipped with homemade light switches and a circuit breaker made from nails, wire, and magnets. The windmill was later extended to 12 meters to better catch the wind above the trees. A third windmill pumped greywater for irrigation.

It's puzzling that the media has chosen not to publish his story which can so easily inspire those who despite being poor adopt a never-say-die attitude and are prepared to study and beat the odds.

Due to its large outreach, the media can so easily sway people’s thinking and therefore it must highlight powerful stories that can transform lives.  Bear in mind that its IDEAS and PEOPLE that can make a far better world.  You don’t need a string of degrees to shine and what society needs are active citizens who are able to drum up ideas or solutions to solve social problems.

Ideas that can help change lives must never be thrown into the back burner

Like Kamkwamba, I too face challenges over the last year or two with the local mainstream media. 

Asa a social activist who is very much in touch with the ground and one who focusses on finding solutions to growing problems, I often come up with creative solutions that can improve the lives of my countrymen here in Singapore. 

At the end of September 2019, I wrote a letter to a local newspaper proposing a ride-on solution to the government grant of $200 a month to family caregivers.

Open Public Suggestion to the Singapore Government:  Caregiver leave can help family caregivers a great deal

 

The salient points raised by the writer Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta are valid concerns which our caregivers face in helping their loved ones cope better (Policies must proactively support caregivers, September 28, 2019. The Straits Times).

Caregiving is taxing and a costly affair as most of these caregivers pay a heavy price: Physically, mentally and financially. 

As caregiving is often a 24-hour task, many caregivers have to end of giving up their full-time jobs.  

 

Therefore, I am sure our tireless caregivers will welcome the move by the Ministry of Health to provide the much-needed Home Caregiving Grant of $200.

 

An important task for caregivers is to bring their sick loved ones to hospital and clinics on a regular basis. If a caregiver is employed, he/she will have to apply for vacation leave to accompany their loved one for their medical appointment/s.

 

Therefore, to promote caregiving as a noble task, I urge the policy makers to consider providing a caregiver leave scheme of between 3 to 5 days. 

 

Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta was spot on when she pointed out that if caregivers are supported by other family members, the community and the government, they are less likely to suffer burnout.

 

Unfortunately, as caregiving is daunting, most, if not all the time, the caregiver role is often not shared, leaving just one person to handle this unenviable task. It is even more taxing, daunting if any caregiver has to look after a loved one with mental disorders, and I am sure many of our Ministers and Members of Parliament know this only too well. Thus, the support mechanism for caregivers must be put solidly in place and be on-going.

 

If caregiver leave is implemented, I have every confidence that other family members will step forward and share in caregiving, thereby easing the load of a primary caregiver.

Idea rejected by the press, being considered by the Ministry of Health

Regrettably, my letter was not published even though it was a value -added suggestion. It is an irony that while the press did not see it fitting to publish my letter, when I wrote to the Health Minister at the Ministry of Health (MOH), The reply I received was encouraging. MOH said that they will assess and review my proposal. Now if the caregiver leave is implemented, wouldn’t thousands of our caregivers’ benefit?

High time our journalists are trained to see the merits of good ideas and not take the easy way out by throwing it into the back-burner.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

 

 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Open Public Suggestion to the Singapore Government: Caregiver leave can help family caregivers a great deal


The salient points raised by the writer are valid concerns which our caregivers face in helping their loved ones cope better (Policies must proactively support caregivers, September 28, 2019. The Straits Times).

 

Caregiving is taxing and a costly affair as most of these caregivers pay a heavy price: Physically, mentally and financially. 

 

As caregiving is often a 24-hour task, many caregivers have to end of giving up their full-time jobs.  

 

Therefore, I am sure our tireless caregivers will welcome the move by the Ministry of Health to provide the much-needed Home Caregiving Grant of $200.

 

An important task for caregivers is to bring their sick loved ones to hospital and clinics on a regular basis. If a caregiver is employed, he/she will have to apply for vacation leave to accompany their loved one for their medical appointment/s.

 

Therefore, to promote caregiving as a noble task, I urge the policy makers to consider providing a caregiver leave scheme of between 3 to 5 days. 

 

Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta was spot on when she pointed out that if caregivers are supported by other family members, the community and the government, they are less likely to suffer burnout.

 

Unfortunately, as caregiving is daunting, most, if not all the time, the caregiver role is often not shared, leaving just one person to handle this unenviable task. It is even more taxing, daunting if any caregiver has to look after a loved one with mental disorders, and I am sure many of our Ministers and Members of Parliament know this only too well. Thus, the support mechanism for caregivers must be put solidly in place and be ion-going.

 

If caregiver leave is implemented, I have every confidence that other family members will step forward and share in caregiving, thereby easing the load of a primary caregiver.

 

In closing, allow me to lead you to video production entitled ODE TO DORIS – Conqueror of Schizophrenia produced by a group of poly students who felt for both myself and my late wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang,

 


 
Sincerely,
Raymond Anthony Fernando


Reply from MOH


Dear Mr Raymond,

We refer to your email dated 4 October 2019 to the Ministry of Health.

Thank you for your feedback.

You may wish to know that your case is under assessment and we will require some time to review. We will respond in due course.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey Lee
for Quality Service Manager
Ministry of Health, Singapore


 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Schizophrenia: Raymond A Fernando’s shared his story on National TV 7 years ago


Dear Friends  
There has been lot of stigma surrounding mental illnesses and mental patients in Singapore. Spurred on by the love for his schizophrenic wife Doris, Raymond Fernando decided to become an advocate for the mentally ill. This is apart from having to care for Doris around the clock and providing financially for the both of them. Catch the final episode of Everyday Heroes as we chart this undying love.
It’s 5 years now since Doris has died, but I still miss her terribly. 
But she is safe NOW, in the arms of the Lord, free from prejudice, free from discrimination.
Doris has authored 8 books before she died, through my undying love for her. I have re-printed her very 1st book, a cookbook entitled “COOK WITH LOVE” which retails at $20. I thank God for bringing people to support our works, it helps me with my many needs NOW.
 
I am trying to cope with my own medical needs including osteoarthritis
Rally around me as I arrive at the last journey in my difficult life.
God Bless!
 
Sincerely,
Raymond Anthony Fernando

 
TV Show:  Everyday Heroes - EP9
 

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Opinion piece:  Show empathy, compassion and kindness to maids

 

I fully endorse the kindness, understanding that employers display to their hired helpers (Treat maids with respect, compassion, Sep 11, 2019)


Many of these helpers who come from poorer countries leave their families back home to earn better wages here in Singapore. It is a big sacrifice which all employers must appreciate.


When we are sensitive to the needs of maids and treat them well, as the writer has done, they will in turn look after the employer and all members of the household.

Most of our maids are up at the crack of dawn and work till as late at 10pm almost every day.   Find time to chat with the maid so that cordial relationships develop, bearing in mind that as friends, we tend to be more giving.


We need to create a people-centric culture to fully understand that working together helps to achieve a common goal. No harm in lending a hand to the maid when it comes to doing household chores.  Children who observe such kindness will grow up to be more caring citizens.


I have seen maids carrying the school bags of their employers’ children and showering them with love and kindness.  Ultimately, such virtues will translate into lifelong relationships and help to make this a far better world.


While eating my lunch at the market today, Wednesday 18th September 2019, I saw a Filipino maid taking her lunch which was paid for by her employer. I was in 2 minds. Happy that she has meals, but saddened that she leaves her home to earn better wages in Singapore. It's terrible to be without food.

Given that I have diabetes my hunger pangs are many. And if I don't take food I will collapse.

Let’s rally around them and bring happiness to these foreign domestic helpers who are also human beings.

 

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Opinion piece: Consumers must be prudent when purchasing groceries, but don’t write off ABC stores




The Straits Times ran an article on the ABC store at Potong Pasir which they felt had been misleading consumers “Sales that never end could soon come to an end”, September, 2, 2019).

 

Following that report, regular forum writer, Jeffrey Law Lee Beng also then took issue with the store in his letter, which in a nutshell said that action must be taken against the store, “Clamp down on shop owners who falsify original prices of sale items, September 4, 2019).

 

First of all, let us understand that the ABC stores is regarded by many consumers who include maids, the elderly and lower income groups as a poor man’s grocery store. The goods purchased help stretch the dollar.

 

There are hundreds of foreigners, including Filipino maids and Indian nationals who patronise the stores island-wide. In Lucky Plaza alone, at least 3 of its branches offer items which are value for money.  These foreigners leave their families behind to come to Singapore to earn better wages and depend on these stores to buy affordable groceries.   Let us not deprive them of providing decent meals for their families as many of them live in poor countries.

 

The Filipino maids often buy 2 to 3 bags of such groceries and send it by courier to their families back home as such items help them to keep costs down. Additionally, these groceries are a luxury back home.  

 

In striving to build a gracious and more caring society, let us make every effort to show kindness, empathy and compassion to the poor and the needy.

 

For example, a medium size bottle of shampoo cost only $1, while a bar of Dove soap cost just 50 cents. For $10, consumers can purchase lots of biscuits and even chocolates which the bigger supermarkets like NTUC FairPrice or Sheng Song cannot offer. 

 

Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world and everyone has to be prudent in their spending.

 

I also purchase such groceries from the ABC or Value add stores as I am no longer holding a fulltime job.

 

What is important is for consumers to check the expiry dates when buying products – and on the part of the stores, they can give bigger discounts for items which expiry dates fall within a month.  Then if the consumer decides to buy them, they should use them before the expiry dates.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, September 5, 2019

On-going enriching marriage commitment programmes needed to combat greying divorce: An open public suggestion to Desmond Lee, Minister for Family & Social Development & the Cabinet


3rd September 2019



 

It is a worrying trend that seniors are ending their marriage after being together for decades (Divorces among seniors in Singapore going up, Sept, 2)

It is a sad reality that grey divorce appears to be a new demographic trend, and this has accelerated in the 21st century. 

Getting married is easy, but staying married is another matter entirely.  Even more challenging is staying committed to each other throughout the rest of their lives.

The divorce experience is emotionally and financially traumatic and includes a long list of psychological side effects that so often leads to burnout.  Where there are adult children involved, the break up will wreak havoc as, out of no choice, children will have to put their personal lives on hold to handle difficult situations at home.

To help bring down grey divorce, it would be useful to have programmes that helps couples value the marriage vows which they took when they signed on the dotted line,

One way is to have the marriage encounter programme for married seniors carried out every 5 years. These 10 to 12 sessions have proven effective in getting married couples to value the bonds of marriage. 

Testimonies from couples who have stayed resilient throughout their marriage journey could be invited to share their joyful experiences to motivate and inspire all attending.

Given that seniors may find it a challenge to pay for the programmes, it will help a great deal if such sessions can be fully sponsored or given subsidies by the organisers.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Raymond’s on-going journey to bring a better tomorrow




Dear all,

 

My trip to Selangor (KL) for a meeting with a mental health NGO (MIASA) whose Patron is the daughter of the Malaysian King on 22nd August went well – and they are impressed with my sharing on how I took care of my late wife Doris Lau who battled schizophrenia for 40 years, eventually bringing her to a full recovery.  Before Doris died, she authored 8 books with my coaching.  MIASA plans to secure sponsorship and invite me back next year to speak on schizophrenia & depression at public forums. They have 500 caregivers.

There were concerns when there were disruptions at the KL airport over WIFI breakdowns and computer issues, but the staff at the hotel where I stayed and the airport officers were very helpful.  I prayed to Jesus and HE protected me and brought me home safe & sound.

The flight stewardess, Miss Cassie Wong at Jetstar was awesome, chatted with me during the 1-hour flight and gave me a delicious muffin. Nice to know that kindness and empathy is spreading. Going the extra mile helps a great deal.

 It has not been easy for me to secure support, as some critics have heavily criticized me. But I remain steadfast and am grateful for some kind Catholics who rallied around me and sponsored my trip including accommodation at KL   They include a European gentleman whose daughter has special needs. He told me he supports me as it is a worthwhile project I am embarking on.

I am indeed also grateful to IMH management & their staff for the wonderful support they have – and continue to give me as I try my best to help caregivers trying to cope with taking care of loved ones with mental illness. IMH. I manged to secure sponsorship for my late wife’s very first book COOK WITH LOVE.   

My next project will be another book on kindness (See covers attached).

I am encouraged by the support from kind people who believe in me, one of whom is a professional, His review of my earlier book on kindness sums up my commitment & dedication to make this world a far better place.  On all accounts we can each make a difference.

“Mr Fernando speaks from the expertise of vast experience; his tales are taken from everyday encounters that we sometimes underrate or understate in our haste to fill up every 24 hours as quickly as possible. Written by a HDB heartlander with heart well-grounded in the heartlands. Take a listen.”

 

Cheers,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, August 19, 2019

Open public suggestion to Mr Ong Ye Kung – Minister for Education: Include community work during orientation programmes



Despite warnings of disciplinary action against students and their leaders involved in questionable behavior during orientation programmes, yet another incident of crude behaviour has surfaced, as reported in” NTU probes video of students making crude chant and gestures” (The New Paper, Aug 16,2019).

A strong signal must be sent that such incidents will never be tolerated – period.

I am sure students can be taught more value-added lessons.

Singapore has a fast ageing population and we have an acute shortage of volunteers.

It's so heart-wrenching to see the elderly sick in hospitals. Often their caregivers are their own elderly spouses. Some of the elderly sick may not have children, some have children who are not able to care or visit them as the children fall into the sandwich class where they have children of their own to take care of.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) could make bold changes to its orientation programmes by exposing students to community work where students and their leaders can visit the elderly sick in hospitals and befriend them.  

Training can be provided by professionals from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

The collaborations between MSF & MOE on support for the elderly sick during orientation programmes could be a pilot scheme and if proven successful, could be included in all future prorgmmes at all tertiary institutions

Bottom line: Students must reject outright immoral activities and provide love and support to our seniors that will build the all-rounded student.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 



Dear Mr Raymond Fernando,
Thank you for your email to Minister Ong.
We agree with you that such inappropriate behaviour has no place in our universities. Besides taking disciplinary actions against students involvedin the incident, NTU will also counsel them, and emphasise to them the importance of values such as respect and inclusiveness in the NTU and wider Singapore society
...
Indeed, caring for vulnerable groups like the elderly is an important attribute we hope to nurture in our students. Today, our universities havea range of student groups who volunteer in the community, including in old folks homes and hospitals. We will share your idea with the universities, to see how elements of such activities could be incorporated into their orientation programmes.

Thank you,
Guo Yiran (Ms)
Assistant Director, Higher Education Policy Division
Ministry of Education (Singapore)

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Opinion piece to the Singapore Government: Healthy lifestyle, safety and public education takes priority over promotion of PMDs



 

I agree that usage of mobile phones by pedestrians should not be allowed when walking on our busy roads (Pedestrians also need to pay attention when walking; August 10, 2019, The Straits Times).  

 

However, I do not agree on the assumption by the writer, Murali that there is a witch-hunt on PMDs.

 

Our resources are being overstretched.  Healthcare workers, the traffic police and the courts are seeing an overload due to blatant disregard for traffic rules.

 

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) mentioned on 26 July 2019 that there was a total of 54 reported fires involving such mobility devices from January to June this year. Additionally, the number of reported fires involving power-assisted bicycles (PAB) and personal mobility devices (PMDs) has more than doubled in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

What is just as important is to ensure that we all manage our health properly and that means exercising regularly.  More so with rising medical costs skyrocketing.

I have seen youths who are abled bodied using E-bikes and E-scooters that run at break-neck speeding along the common corridors and pathways leading to bus stops.  If our youths or the younger generation use these PMDs more often, chances are they will not exercise, and in the long run, their health will take a beating. 

On Sunday 11th August at around a young tall rider in his 30s came out of the blue in the darkness and rode his E-Scooter at break-neck speed, totally disregarding the passengers who were waiting at the bus stop at my block.  If I had not stayed alert, I would have been knocked down with severe injuries.  Must we keep looking over our shoulders all the time?   

Whatever happened to the government’s campaign to build a rugged society some years ago?

Let’s get it clear: Such devices must only be used by persons who have severe mobility issues. And if food delivery riders like grab food or food panda are allowed to carry cooked meals to clients, they must ride with strict regulations. For sure, on­-going publication education is a must.

To improve the quality of life in Singapore, the Ministry of Health and the Transport Ministry must work closely together to ensure that policies or schemes enable us to live, work and play in a safe and healthy environment.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Preface to my next book on kindness




PREFACE

If I were asked to name the 5 best things in life, I would immediately cite these: Love, friendship, family, health and of course – kindness.  

 

What we can all do to make this a far better world is identify what we are passionate about and what we value. Then take steps to incorporate these passions and values into the workplace, in our family and in the community.

 

I am very passionate about social issues and I mainly focus on 3 groups: The elderly lonely, children with special needs and the mentally ill. I will speak and write passionately on those clinging onto the fringes of society.  

 

The first book I wrote in kindness, “Kindness is the bridge between all people” was well received – and I managed to sell 180 copies of this novel in just 3 weeks.   It was so encouraging to get accolades from people within Singapore and abroad on the work I do.  This has inspired me to write my second book on kindness.

 

One psychologist from the Philippines. Miss Celine Sugay who has heard of my advocacy work told me this: “I'm sure thousands of people are benefiting from what you're doing.”

I always apply the 3 Cs when coming alongside the needy: Caring, Compassion and Commitment.

Happiness and gratefulness go hand in hand. To be happy, we must be grateful for what we have or have acquired. For myself, I am grateful because I had a devoted mother and a good wife who both unselfishly gave me invaluable advice and unconditional love for 40 long years. And of course, I am grateful for acquiring good writing skills through the Divine Inspiration.

To take kindness to a higher level, we must not be judgmental when we do not have any idea of those who are struggling in life.  The homeless are often criticised because some people make the wrong assumption that they are in their state because they are lazy.

To those who are unshaven and begging for a meal or money, people will say that they are like parasites, not knowing that they could have lost their jobs. 

When your hair turns grey due to ageing and when you try to sell your books, how any people will rally around you and buy your book because they assume that being old, you do not have the ability to churn out a good story?  

When a prisoner has served his term behind bars, will we as a caring and gracious society give him a second chance, bearing in mind that as humans, we all make mistakes in life?

The media – because of its big outreach has a crucial role to play in promoting kindness – and we need enlightened journalists to encourage their viewers and readers to step forward with bright ideas.  Diverse and balanced views without biasness can help in nation-building.

In this sequel, Empathy and kindness make the world a better place”,

I will present inspiring true stories ranging from simple acts of charity, loyal kindness to royal kindness and many more moving accounts of how the milk of human kindness has healed the world.  

 

I hope that you will enjoy reading the book and be motivated to pass on kindness in small and big ways – to one and all. God Bless!

 

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

(@ copyrightraymondafernando 2019

 

 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Opinion piece: Come down hard on abusers, bullies and uncivility


 

 

Austria has the most bullying in the Western world, Sweden has the least. In Europe and North America, boys report being bullied the most in Austria and the least in Sweden, according to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 

Decisive and concreate action must be taken against bullies and abusers – even after the bully has left employment. Bullying and harassment can also have a serious adverse effect on the success of the business leading to reduced productivity and profits. This is because bullying and harassment can cause: low morale and poor employee relations.

 

Uncivility is also becoming a growing problem in many parts of the world. In addition, favoritism has seen many productive workers and citizens losing out on rewards.

 

Bar abusive employers; counsel them from hiring helpers

 

I am shocked beyond words to read of the abuse to Ms Khalifa, an Indonesian mother of two from Indramayu, West Java by a husband and wife who were so cruel to their helper “Woman jailed 11 years after abuse left maid with deformed nose, scars”  (The New Paper; Aug,2, 2019)..

 

 

Due to the 6 months physical abuse, the 39-year-old the domestic helper has a deformed left ear, permanent and prominent scars on her forehead, on the back of her head and across her shoulders. Her left little finger is functionally impaired.

 

Justice has been served when the judge sentenced her Singaporean employers Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, and her husband Mohamad Dahlan to jail – 11 years jail to Zariah and 15 months and a fine of $1,000 to her husband.

 

Domestic workers make big sacrifices to leave their families back home to earn better wages here in Singapore so let’s show some kindness and understanding to them.

 

But questions are a plenty. Given that the couple was convicted in 2001 of abuse of another maid (“Abuse by couple left maid, 39, disfigured and traumatised, Aug 2”), it is baffling that they were allowed to hire another domestic helper.

 

 Serving a jail sentence is not sufficient to send a clear message to abusers. They need to be counselling while serving their sentences as well as when they are out of prison.   In addition, they should be barred from hiring helpers.

 

With Singapore’s rapid ageing population, domestic helpers served a useful purpose in helping families cope with caregiving and they must be valued.  Such abuses do not put Singapore in good light.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion piece: Maturity and diligence have to be established between fake news and useful opinions and suggestion


Opinion piece:  Maturity and diligence have to be established between fake news and useful opinions and suggestion

By: Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, no government in the world – Singapore include can solve all problems.  During my employment with our national broadcasting station, the then-General Manager of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Moses Lee encouraged all the staff to contribute ideas and suggestion to improve SBC which will in turn would raise productivity.

Lee’s reasoning was that the staff who were on the ground were in a far better position to see problems within their own divisions and then as a team, they could come up with constructive and workable solutions.  Many employees – myself included, encouraged by Lee’s management acumen were rewarded with outstanding SBC certificates and cash incentives.

Promote active citizenry

In the same vein, active citizenry where citizens who are willing to come up with constructive and workable solutions to social issues must be given the opportunity to air their views to help in nation-building. Their feedback can be useful for governments to draw up polices or fine-tune existing ones that will be beneficial to the less fortunate in societies.   

Six aspects of great feedback

 

♦ Be specific. We all respond better when we receive specific feedback

 

♦ Be immediate. The best feedback is immediate and comes while all the details are fresh in your mind

 

♦ Tie feedback to goals

 

♦ Ensure feedback is actionable

 

♦ Use the right language

 

♦ Don't avoid feedback

 

Daily ritual

I make it a daily ritual to read the media reports with special focus on social problems.  It is futile for the MSN to keep up publish articles on growing social problems, but reject outright well analyzed press letters that can improve lives. When I read the report of male teen suicides that went up 10 percent, I responded swiftly with some workable solutions to 3 local newspapers.

All 3 refused to publish my letter.  The why bother to write these reports?

Unfortunately, not all journalists, especially in our mainstream media are well trained to allow useful ideas and suggestions to be published. Or they are afraid to fall out of favour with the establishment. Either way this is this is not useful in improving the lives of those who are struggling to cope.  To stifle creativity is not the right thing to do Period!

High time we change this attitude.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Opinion piece: Talk therapy effective in bringing down suicides



 
It  is troubling to read of the report where the number of teenage boys who took their own lives last year hit a record high of 19 as reported in “Male teen suicides hit record high” (The New Paper; July 30)

 

Everyone, young and old needs to value life and this message has to be ingrained so that lives are not lost when wrong decisions made bring much pain to families and friends.

 

The factors and risks that contribute to youth suicide could include academic pressure, alcohol consumption, relationship issues, frequent change of residency, and poor family patterns.  Harassment is yet another leading cause of teen suicide, along with abuse.

 

To tackle suicides head on, frank and candid discussion must be on the cards. Those who are suicidal need to release their pent-up emotions to people whom they can trust, show empathy and who will not be judgmental.  They need motivation and a purpose in life. Suicide survivors who have turned their lives around and become resilient in the process together with professionals will be able to help youths to overcome adversities and treasure life to the fullest.

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective to address suicides. CBT is a form of talk therapy to get people who are suicidal to discuss their worries, anxieties and unhappiness in a conducive environment. 

 

To this end, I further propose that the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) work closely with government agencies like the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social and Family Development to carry out these programmes on a regular basis, reaching out to schools, tertiary institutions and religious organisations. 

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO