Facing life with death – The reality of suicide cases in Singapore

How can we help individuals who are losing all hope to live?


A few days back, a disturbingly graphic video of a 23-year old man plunging to his death from the 11th floor of a Jurong flat went viral.

According to reports, the man had stood at a window ledge for almost 2 hours despite pleas from his loved ones to step inside the flat. At some point, he even dangled his semi-naked body over the support beam.

He jumped off the HDB flat when he realized that SCDF officers were on site and preparing an airbag to secure him.

Cases like these are definitely disturbing, and what follows is a chilling realization. Suicide has no face, and there are usually no telltale signs to indicate that a person is about to end their life.

This begs the question: what is the rate of suicide cases in Singapore?


Looking at the Numbers

According to Samaritans of Singapore, suicides have been increasing in Singapore, from 409 suicides in 2015 to 429 in 2016.

Male suicides were highest in the age range of 20-29 years with 56 deaths, whereas for women, it was highest in the age range of 30-39 years (30 deaths). The total number of suicides for both men and women in 2016 were at 279 and 150 respectively.


Myths and Facts About Suicide

Based on an article by the The College of Family Physicians Singapore, a combination of factors is more likely to trigger a person towards suicide than a singular one. There are also push and pull factors that could influence a person’s risk towards committing suicide.

Common push factors include individual vulnerabilities, a present physical or mental illness, a background in drug, alcohol and gambling abuse as well as a sense of helplessness.

Pull factors that prevent a person from committing suicide, on the other end, consist of good self-esteem, a value or belief system that alters a person’s attitude towards suicide, and being in good mental and physical health.

There are many myths surrounding the topic of suicide. One infamous myth is that only individuals with mental conditions commit suicide. In actual fact, the act of suicide bleeds closer to feelings of sadness and emotional pain.

Furthermore, suicide notes tend to provide an insight as to what would drive a person to kill themselves, and findings include feelings of despondency, shame, guilt and hopelessness.

A survey which looked into suicide cases from the years 2000-2004 saw that almost half (45 per cent) of victims gave verbal hints of suicide before committing it. This squashes another myth on suicides, which states that people commit suicide as an act of impulse and with no warnings beforehand.


How to Seek Help

Singapore has been active in its efforts to curb suicides. Two bodies in particular stand out when it comes to elevating the public’s awareness for suicide prevention and mental health matters, and they are the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) and Silver Ribbon (Singapore) respectively.

SOS has a 24-hour hotline to help individuals who are in crisis and in dire need of counselling.
There are also programs designed to quell the stigma that usually comes with addressing mental health issues.

A series of other programs are also in place to extend support to individuals who are at a higher risk of depression and suicide. This includes the presence of school counsellors for students as well as the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) at SCAPE Youth Park, and Family Service Centres.

Programs are also conducted to connect the elderly groups to the Senior Activity Centers. By doing so, said elderlies might have a lower chance of being isolated and developing depression.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Health’s official website here.

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