PETALING JAYA: Tackling depression among youngsters is one of the ways to prevent suicide attempts when they get older.
HELP University psychologist & Fulbright scholar Dr Brendan J. Gomez said suicide rates could be reduced by focusing on children.
“If we don’t do this, then we have not addressed anything in the early stages which is the simplest to do,” he said.
The World Health Organisation has said that suicide is the second leading cause of death today (after road accidents) among people aged 15 to 29.
Locally, the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017 found that one in five youths suffered from depression and 10% have had suicidal thoughts.
“Often times, people will talk about prevention and come up with some kind of potpourri of programmes.
“But it’s not just about doing a programme. It should be about evidence-based prevention,” he said.
Evidence-based programme will have a pre-test and post-test before and at the end of the programme.
“If we don’t invest in evidence-based programming, then we are just doing a one-off thing which is not sustainable,” Dr Gomez said.
This, he said, would also mean that more funds would be spent to train mental health professionals, provide hospital beds and treat patients.
The biggest cost, he added, was the loss of a life.
Dr Gomez suggested that health insurance cover mental illnesses as well.
He said health insurance in developed nations like Australia and Britain would include mental health illnesses to ensure children and youth are given psychological support.
“Youth mentoring has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent suicide among young people,” he said.
For the youth, it’s not only about having someone to listen to them but also having someone who understands what they are going through.
“They want to know that they matter,” said Dr Gomez.
“They want to know that what they’re going through, that they don’t have to go through it alone.”
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