SINGAPORE: Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) revealed today (July 1) that there has been a concerning increase of 25.9 per cent in suicide deaths in 2022 compared to 2021, with a total of 476 suicides reported last year. This marks the highest recorded suicide deaths in the country since 2000.
SOS, a non-profit organization dedicated to crisis intervention and suicide prevention, also revealed an alarming rise in suicide rates among youths and the elderly.
Suicide remained the leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 29, making up 38.7 per cent of all deaths within this age group for the fourth consecutive year. In 2022, there was an 11.6 per cent increase in suicide deaths among youths, rising from 112 to 125.
Additionally, individuals aged 70 to 79 experienced a staggering 60 per cent increase in suicide deaths compared to the previous year, rising from 30 to 48.
These numbers underscore the urgent need for increased attention and support for the mental well-being of both young and elderly Singaporeans.
Dr Jared Ng, Senior Consultant and Medical Director at Connections MindHealth, said: “Seeing the unprecedented rise in suicide numbers in Singapore is profoundly heartbreaking. This increase paints a picture of the unseen mental distress permeating our society, especially amongst our youths and the elderly.”
He added, “It is crucial that we remain vigilant to the pressing issues that continue to heavily impact mental health, such as social isolation and loneliness. The time is now, to double our efforts in the realm of early detection and to actively encourage a culture of seeking help and watching out for one another.”
SOS also reported a 27 per cent increase in the use of its services, including the 24-hour Hotline and CareText, compared to the previous year. This highlights the growing demand for crisis intervention and support.
SOS CEO Gasper Tan said, “While suicide is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including mental health challenges, social pressures, and economic uncertainties, our collective efforts to address these underlying causes must take priority.
“We recognise the urgency of the situation, and are committed to continue taking proactive steps to address the rising suicide numbers and provide support to those in need.”
Over the years, SOS has introduced multiple initiatives and programs, including the ‘Light in the Dark’ suicide attempters support group and the ‘Be A Samaritan’ first-responder community program. These efforts aim to widen the safety net, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking through collaborations with community partners and raising awareness.
Dr Ong Say How, Senior Consultant and Chief of the Department of Developmental Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), emphasized the importance of a united front among parents, educators, healthcare professionals, and community workers in forming a safety net to prevent such tragedies.
He said, “From efforts to improving mental health literacy such as knowing the warning signs of distress and importance of self-care to teaching peer support skills, we must leave no stone unturned. Beyond the knowledge, we should also guide youths on when and where to seek help.”
The alarming rise in suicide rates in Singapore serves as a wake-up call for the government, organizations, and society as a whole to prioritize mental health and implement comprehensive measures to address the underlying factors contributing to these tragedies.
Immediate action is crucial to safeguard the well-being and future of Singapore’s youth and elderly population.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to one of the following helplines for immediate assistance:
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1-767 (24-hour hotline) or 9151 1767 (24-hour CareText via WhatsApp)
- Singapore Association of Mental Health: 1800 283 7019
- Emergency helpline of the Institute of Mental Health: 6389 2222 (24-hour hotline)