Millennials most at risk of suicide in Singapore

Are you doing enough to support employee mental health?

Millennials most at risk of suicide in Singapore

Suicide remains the leading cause death for youths in Singapore, according to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).

The number of suicides deaths in 2019 was found to remain the highest amongst those aged 20 to 29 years, compared with all other age groups.

SOS found that suicide accounted for one in three reported deaths for millennials here. Are leaders doing enough to support employee mental health, especially in these difficult times?

READ MORE: How to safeguard mental health in a prolonged crisis

The non-profit organisation found that millennials made up approximately 17% or total calls to their 24-hour hotline and about 37% of their email service.

Through their interactions, SOS observed that individuals often cited issues with romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health, and struggles managing challenging situations as their main triggers.

While the rise in calls is an encouraging sign that youths are recognising the importance of their mental health and need for early intervention, the high number of suicide deaths in this age group is concerning, Gasper Tan, Chief Executive at SOS. He highlighted the integral role of advocacy to further understand and address the issue.

Gary Taylor – an HR director with personal experience in the aftermath of a workplace suicide – identified suicide and mental health as a ‘growing phenomenon’.

Taylor suggested that HR put a preventative strategy in place, which should:

  • Promote awareness, particularly among colleagues. Learn about several ‘telltale’ symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviour, such as odd ‘withdrawal’ behaviour.
  • Promote resources. Usually part or employee assisted programs (EAP), these allow those affected to share their situation with trained counsellors, even if only by phone. These hotlines can help to ‘talk down’ a suicidal individual and provide helpful coping tools.
  • Facilitate referral to professionals. If an EAP is not affordable, HR can facilitate appropriate access to professionals, and advise on health insurance funding options for treatment.

READ MORE: WHO: 'Urgent need' to tackle mental health crisis

Identifying those who need help
Even with a preventative strategy in place, unfortunately SOS’s study showed that identifying affected individuals remains tricky in Singapore, as stigma around the issue continue to hold back sufferers from reaching out.

In a recent survey to understand the community’s perception towards suicide, SOS found that one in three millennials said they would not consider contacting others for help when they’re emotionally overwhelmed.

Reasons they won’t reach out for help included:

- Stigma around suicide emerged as top barrier

- The fear of embarrassment or being judged

- The sense of hopelessness that nothing will help

READ MORE: Singapore tackles mental health discrimination

“There may be many within our community who are facing their personal challenges silently, unbeknownst to us all,” said Tan.

“In this time when we are physically distanced from one another to stay safe, feelings of loneliness and helplessness may be amplified. It is important for us to show our care and concern for our loved ones by checking in on them periodically.

“While the journey forward may be tough, this action helps to show that we are willing to walk with them to make this journey a little less intimidating.”

If you or someone you know needs support, please contact the following helplines:

  • National CARE hotline: 1800 202 6868
  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221 4444
  • Institute of Mental Healths Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800 377 2252
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800 353 5800

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