Suicides see slight increase in 2011: SOS

The number of suicides among Singaporeans and permanent residents inched up to 361 last year from 353 the year before, which was the second lowest in the past decade, according to figures from non-profit organisation Samaritans of Singapore.
 
The age group that witnessed the greatest jump was for people in their 50s, with the figure rising to 80 from 54 over the period.
 
Suicides for those 65 and above also went up significantly to 83 from 68.
 
These figures, though still relatively small, are symptomatic of the challenges faced by elderly residents here, said deputy director of SOS Tan Yoke Yin.
 
"(The) mid-sixties onwards is a period of transition marked by physiological, psychological and social changes," she explained, noting that elderly people falling in the age group encounter multiple health issues, and if they live alone, may lack sufficient support from their surroundings.
 
"There is also a perception of being a burden to their family... (and) may not be aware of community services when they require assistance," she added.
 
Tan also noted the increase in the number of calls made to SOS's 24-hour hotline and appeals for help sent to its email befriending service in the year ending in March.
 
The number of calls made to SOS's hotline rose by almost 3,000 between 2010 and 2011, with some 44,053 calls made last year. Emails to its befriending service also increased by 40 per cent.
 
Tan stressed the need for a reduction in the stigma attached to what she calls "help-seeking behaviour", something that is crucial to suicide prevention, in particular for the elderly.
 
"As elderly people who think about suicide often feel lonely, suffer from a chronic illness, or feel like they do not have a purpose in life, it is important to encourage (them) to get medical attention (for health issues), to be involved in community activities, to meet other people and to adopt hobbies... (in general) improving (their) quality of life," she added.

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