Suicides among Singapore’s teenage boys hit 27-year high: SOS

One of the barriers male teenagers face when seeking help could be “societal stereotypes” that demand of them to be tough, Samaritans of Singapore said.

A total of 19 suicides among Singaporean teenage boys – aged 10 to 19 – were reported in 2018. This makes it the highest the number of suicide cases in that age group since suicide figures began being recorded in 1991, Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) revealed.

SOS also released statistics on Monday (July 29) to show that a total of 94 youths chose to end their own lives in 2018. It added that suicide remains the leading cause of death for youths aged 10 to 29, as for every 10 youths who died from external causes last year, six were due to suicide.

In a statement, SOS described the prevalence of suicide mortality among youths and males as a “significant societal concern”.

Overall, a total of 397 suicides were reported in Singapore last year, a 10 per cent increase from the year before. 

All age groups registered an increase in the number of suicides, with the exception of those aged 60 and above.

Many youths reaching out

SOS reported that out of those who revealed their age, 78 per cent of clients who wrote in to SOS’ email befriending service – which offers emotional support for those in distress – were youths aged 10 to 29.

In a statement, Wong Lai Chun, the senior assistant director of SOS, said that youths today seemed to have “greater awareness of the moments when they feel alone and helpless” and were also more willing to reach out for support.

She added that it was “disconcerting” to know that youths felt “unsupported through their darkest periods and see suicide as the only choice to end their pain and struggles”.

Men face societal stereotypes when seeking help

Among those who revealed their age and gender, male teenagers aged 10 to 19 made up 30 per cent of incoming calls to SOS, and about 27 per cent of the email befriending clients aged 10 to 19. 

One of the barriers male teenagers face when seeking help could be “societal stereotypes” that demand of them to be tough, SOS said.

For every 10 suicides recorded last year, at least seven were men, SOS revealed.

Wong said: “We live in a society that stresses the importance of masculine qualities as a measure of success. Men are stereotypically expected to be tough, stoic, and financially stable. The slightest hint of vulnerability can be seen as an imperfection”.

She added: “This has to change. Men and women alike need to know that it is okay to be less than perfect and we need to educate the public to understand that a supportive and encouraging environment is far more beneficial than a judgmental one for our society.”

To remove the stigma of seeking help, SOS focuses on raising awareness of suicide warning signs, and identifying ways the community can support individuals in despair. 

“Suicide prevention begins with fostering a more empathetic and less judgmental community – because every struggle is unique to its own,” it said.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or in emotional distress, call SOS’ 24-hour hotline on 1800-221-4444

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