Singapore

Help suicidal people by talking to them in a caring, non-judgmental manner: Samaritans of Singapore

What should you do if someone is talking about ending his or her life?

It can be useful to show concern and talk about it with the suicidal person in a caring and non-judgemental manner, says suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).

"Asking if someone wants to end his or her life does not increase the likelihood of it happening. It lets the individual know that he or she can talk about suicide and express their feelings freely," SOS told The New Paper, in the wake of a Malaysian teenage girl's suicide last week after she polled her Instagram followers on whether she should live or die.

Sixty-nine per cent of those polled voted for her to die.

SOS said on its website that those who know someone who is in immediate danger or set for harm should call the Singapore Civil Defence Force at 995 or approach the accident and emergency department of the nearest hospital.

If the person is not in immediate danger, he or she can be referred to helplines or organisations where they can seek help.

They include the Counselling and Care Centre, Silver Ribbon, Community Health Assessment Team, the Singapore Association for Mental Health, Institute of Mental Health, Tinkle Friend for primary school-age children, and Care Corner Counselling for those who speak Mandarin.

Senior assistant director of Fei Yue Community Services, Iris Lin, told TNP that anyone who sees an online poll on whether a person should kill himself must choose not to participate.

She said: "The best thing you can do is reach out to them in private and show you care.

"You can encourage them to a call a helpline or talk to an adult figure, mentor, or someone they have a close relationship with."

Senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare Dr Jacob Rajesh said that rather than a reactive approach to social media posts or polls about suicide, the focus should be on prevention and early detection of emotional distress and mental health issues, especially depression.

He said: "Sometimes, it may be too late to act once these online polls are published.

"Encouraging open family communication, parents making themselves available to their children emotionally and being non-judgemental play a very important role."

Helplines

  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
  • Care Corner Singapore counselling hotline (Mandarin): 1800-3535-800

Seeking help on issues such as cyberbullying and cyber addiction? Contact Help123, an initiative of the National Council of Social Service

  • Hotline: 1800-6123-123 (10am to 6pm)
  • Web chat: www.help123.sg (2pm to 10pm)
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