Singapore now a suicide capital
Suicide is now a significant public health risk in Singapore, responsible for an average of one death every day, a senior government official said yesterday.
For every suicide, there are seven unsuccessful attempts and suicide is now among the top three causes of death among 15-to-35 year olds.
These disturbing findings were presented at the start of a three-day Asia-Pacific conference on suicide prevention.
They are the product of a study of Singapore's suicide figures by psychiatrist Chia Boon Hock, who has shed light not only on the main groups at risk of suicide but also the reasons why people choose to take their own lives. Mental and physical illnesses, it appears, are a significant factor.
Of the more than 1,700 people who killed themselves here between 2000 and 2004, up to seven in 10 were affected by mental illness in one form or another.
Yesterday's main speaker, Permanent Secretary (Health) Yong Ying-I, said local suicide rates were a significant concern.
And though, as elsewhere in the world, rates are highest among the elderly, youth suicide has become a particular problem.
"This is potential lost," she said, "the potential to contribute to their societies and economies ... to live full and meaningful lives."
She urged those who have direct contact with at-risk groups, such as bereaved elderly people or young people with relationship problems, to help identify them early.
Experts agree suicides are often the result of an interaction of factors, which need a "multi-pronged, integrated and comprehensive" approach. Moreover, causes of suicide vary depending on the person's age, gender, ethnic group, marital status and other social aspects.
Generally, young people take their lives because of relationship woes, such as unrequited love, or study stress.
Among adults, mental illness, or stress brought on by marital, financial or employment problems, are frequent "push factors".
But while financial woes do push some elderly people over the brink, many kill themselves because of health or family related issues.
"They fear being a burden to the family," said Chia.
The Straits Times
Asia News Network