Singapore suicides rose in 2019, SOS to offer text-based counselling

Silhouette of depressed man sitting in the private room
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SINGAPORE — The number of reported suicides in Singapore last year increased by less than 1 per cent compared to 2018, with suicide remaining the leading cause of death for youths aged 10 to 29.

And while most age groups registered a slight increase in the number of suicide deaths last year, the number of suicide deaths in the youth age group remains highest compared to all others.

In a press statement on Monday (3 August), the Samaritans of Singapore said there were a total of 400 reported suicides in 2019, up from 397 the year before. Deaths as a result of suicide dropped to 8.00 per 100,000 Singapore residents from 8.36 in 2018.

However, 71 youths aged between 20 and 29 years took their own lives in 2019. Suicide accounts for about one- third of all reported deaths in this age group.

Of those who revealed their age, youths between 20 and 29 years old accounted for approximately 17 per cent of total calls attended to on the 24-hour SOS hotline. In particular, the number of calls from this age group rose to 4,124, up from 3,396 calls in the previous fiscal year ending March 2019.

Through interactions with clients, SOS observed that these individuals often cite issues with romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health and struggles managing challenging situations as contributing factors that led to their acute distress.

And in a recent SOS survey of almost 2,500 respondents, one in three in the 20 to 29 age group, said that they will not consider contacting others for help when they are emotionally overwhelmed. Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group.

The fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were prominent reasons that surfaced in the survey findings.

“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. Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help,” said SOS chief executive Gasper Tan.

Pilot SOS Care Text service

Respondents in the SOS survey had indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help, while the number of calls and emails requesting help increased during the partial lockdown. In this regard, the introduction of SOS Care Text, SOSnewest text-based service, has been brought forward.

Tan said the service would provide an alternative form of emotional support.

“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.”

If you have thoughts of suicide or are feeling distressed, you can call SOS' 24-hour hotline at 1800 221 4444. You can also email

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