Suicide is the leading cause of death for Singapore’s millennials aged 20 to 29, according to statistics shared with Business Insider by Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), a suicide prevention agency.
Between 2008 and 2017, the average number of suicide deaths a year for those aged between 20 to 29 years old was 67.7. This group also registered the country’s second highest number of suicide deaths, after seniors aged 60 and above.
The agency said that common struggles cited by youth using their 24-hour hotline and email befriending services include mental health issues, academic or work pressure, and relationship problems at home, school, or the workplace.
“The sense of hopelessness and despair at the height of a crisis can cause youths to contemplate suicide as a means of escaping their emotional pain and from being a burden to their families and loved ones,” an SOS spokesman said.
The spokesman added that young people do not usually bring up suicide unless they are going through an extremely distressing period in their lives. They might “transit into a period of suicidal ideation” spanning days or weeks, and develop the urge to act on the notion at “the peak of their crisis”.
Those in this state may be unwilling to seek help from family members for fear of being dismissed, ridiculed or being considered mentally unsound.
The issue of mental health among millennials was highlighted last year when 27-year-old Korean star Kim Jong-huyn of boyband SHINee committed suicide after leaving a note that suggested he was suffering from severe depression. Swedish DJ Avicii, 28, also committed suicide earlier this year.
SOS data showed that in Singapore, men accounted for about 60 to 70 per cent of suicide deaths over the past decade, in both the millennial age group and the general population.
The SOS spokesman said men tended to use more lethal methods to commit suicide. Compared with women, they were also less willing to seek help – believing that they should face emotional issues on their own – and often suppressed or hid their pain.
The spokesman added: “Males also tend to compare themselves to a masculine standard role which emphasise greater levels of strength, independence, and risk-taking behaviour. Help-seeking is often associated with loss of status, damage of identity, dependence, loss of control and autonomy, all of which are in opposition to the male standard role.”
SOS suggested that families and schools teach young people emotional management, coping mechanisms, and problem solving skills to help them better navigate stress.
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (for primary school-aged children)
Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)