ACT NOW

Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged 10-29 in Singapore.  

For each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. 

We need a national strategy led by a dedicated agency for greater effectiveness in coordination and implementation.

Every life is precious. Let us act now to save lives.

NATIONAL STRATEGY ON

YOUTH SUICIDE PREVENTION

According to Singapore's only suicide prevention organisation, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), suicide deaths number more than road accidents in the country.  They reported that in 2019 the number of suicides totalled 400, and youths (10 to 29 years) comprised almost a quarter.  Phone calls of distress and messages via email and chat services had also increased among the young, indicating a louder cry for help and deeper signals of distress.  The cumulative number of deaths in this age group clearly shows them to be the most vulnerable (see Youth Suicide Information and WHO).   We must waste no time in addressing youth suicide and identify stressors which impact youth mental health. 

 

A National Strategy for Youth Suicide Prevention backed by strong commitment and leadership from a dedicated lead agency is an approach we must not overlook.  Government, communities, NGOs, schools, media organisations, healthcare professionals, parents, faith-based organisations and youth themselves must come together to effectively prevent suicide and its upstream issues of depression, anxiety and mental illness. 

“... without a national strategy for these efforts to align to, we risk having a fragmented and sub-optimal approach to supporting survivors and bereaved families.”

~ Anthea Ong, Nominated Member of Parliament.

Parliament Debate

Anthea Ong calls for National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.  We need to carry her voice as well as those of the many young people and parents whose lives have been broken by suicide. 

Report

The Government's reply to parliamentary questions.

Read

We might learn much from Australia's approach to Suicide Prevention with it's 4 pillars including an unwavering commitment in leadership.

Article

Suicide can be prevented by

Anthea Ong

LEAD AGENCY

We need a strong national agency to lead the implementation of the national strategy and to coordinate resources, gather data and supervise agencies entrusted with immediate youth suicide prevention plans in Singapore.  Countries like New Zealand have a dedicated suicide prevention department under the Ministry of Health, showing clear political will in arresting suicide in the country. We can learn from organised groups like the The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA),  an alliance of public, private and voluntary organisations in England who care about suicide prevention.  Such models of leadership give good frameworks for managing sustainable suicide prevention plans and offer sound advice to anticipate pitfalls moving forward.

 

WHY A SUICIDE PREVENTION STRATEGY IS IMPORTANT

An editorial in Hogrefe (2019) gave valuable insights into why a suicide prevention strategy is critical to arresting the scourge of suicide deaths.  Top of their reason is that it indicates government's recognition that suicide prevention is a national health priority and an emergency.  It allows for structural changes to be effected and resources to be available.  Without leadership and clarity of approach, youth suicide will continue unabated.  

  1. Indicates government’s clear recognition that suicidal behavior is a priority public health issue and that society is committed to its prevention and reduction

  2. Provides a logic model and structural framework, identifying vision and strategic objectives, inputs (e.g., resources, expertise, partnerships), outputs (e.g., participants, activities), short-term outcomes, long-term impact, and approach to monitoring and evaluation

  3. Provides authoritative leadership and guidance about effective implementation of evidence-informed activities

  4. Identifies partners who are accountable for specific tasks, and promotes effective collaboration and coordination at national and local levels

  5. Identifies crucial gaps in legislation, service provision, and knowledge

  6. Indicates the scale of necessary human and financial resources

  7. Shapes advocacy, awareness raising, and media communications

  8. Proposes a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to promote accountability and learning, and to track progress toward the achievement of strategic objectives

  9. Provides a context for a research agenda on suicidal behavior and its prevention/reduction

Read

More on Other Countries' National Strategies for suicide prevention.

 

TALK RESPONSIBLY 

Part of the strategy for suicide prevention must also include talking responsibly about it.  We need to use the proper terminology, phrases and words in our discussions.  Words which are compassionate and/or neutral helps in reducing the stigma associated with suicide.  The phrase "committed suicide" while commonly used has criminal overtones while "completed suicide" is best avoided for its paradoxical premise.  Best terms to use by far are "death/died by suicide" or "fatal suicide attempt or non-fatal suicide attempt".  Read Suicide & Language.

'Language matters when discussing issues of suicide; language reflects our attitudes and influences our attitudes and the attitudes of others. Words have power; words matter. The language we choose is an indicator of social injustice and has the power to shape our ideas and feelings in very insidious ways.'

 

- Why we don't say "Committed suicide" (IRMI, June 2018)

Read

Attempted suicide is no longer a crime (SOS)

Read

Staying silent on suicide didn't help my daughter (The Spinoff, Sep 2020)

 

Media Guidelines

Several articles give clear guidelines to the media and communities on how best to discuss and communicate suicide. Psychology Today  offers guidelines here :

 

Media :

  • Avoid sharing unnecessary details on the means or method of suicide. “The facts are enough,” “It is not helpful to know the exact details, as those details can sensationalize or glamorize death,”

  • Avoid language that criminalizes suicide. The phrase “committed suicide,” while commonly used, is discouraged as the word “commit” is often associated with criminal actions. Instead, media outlets are encouraged to use “died by suicide” or “killed him/herself.”

  • Avoid language that inflates suicide’s prevalence.

  • Focus on the deceased’s life—not just their death.

  • Always include suicide hotline numbers or links to other suicide prevention resources

 

Public :

  • Talk about suicide as mindfully as possible.

  • Continue the conversation about depression and suicide

  • Acknowledge that suicidal ideation and depression don’t discriminate

  • Encourage anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts to seek help.

Read

If you would like to include your views on suicide prevention, please add your voice to the conversation:

Add Your Voice

©2020 by PleaseStay.Movement.

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