Health DG: Suicide on upward trend, but you can help reduce it

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019

PETALING JAYA: If you know someone who is suffering from depression, take some time to listen to their complaints and offer social support, says the Healh Ministry in a World Suicide Prevention Day address.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the National Health and Morbidity Study found that suicide amongst teenagers aged 13 to 17 was on an upward trend.

He said in 2017, prevalence of suicidal thoughts rose to 10% from 7.9% in 2012.

Similarly, prevalence of plans to commit suicide increased to 7.3% in 2017 from 6.4% in 2012, while suicide attempts increased to 6.9% (2017), compared with 6.8% in 2012.

"According to the World Health Organisation, suicide is one of the top 10 causes of deaths in the world, and the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29 years," Dr Hisham said on Tuesday (Sept 10).

"For each victim, it is estimated that 20 family members or friends will experience emotional, social and economic impact," he added.

This year's theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is "Working Together to Prevent Suicide", focusing on smart partnerships amongst government agencies and non-governmental agencies.

Dr Hisham said this collaborative effort is important because the factors behind suicide extends beyond health issues, it is a combination of mental disorders, substance abuse, psychosocial problems in the family, life tragedies, relationship problems and financial problems.

"Suicide is preventable," he said, adding that members of the community could help should they see someone experiencing an emotional crisis, signs of depression or suicidal tendencies.

"Take their concerns seriously, take the time to hear their complaints, and take care and give them social support."

"If things don't improve, help them get specialist treatment or connect them with existing services," he said.

Dr Hisham said the ministry provided screening and treatment services for mental health problems in 60 government hospitals, 1001 primary health clinics and 25 Mental Health Community Centres (Mentari).

"The Health Ministry will continue to enhance cooperation while welcoming various agencies to be more active in promoting mental health promotion activities," he said, urging the media and the public to be responsible in sharing information about suicide.

Those suffering from problems or contemplating suicide are advised to contact the 24-hour Befrienders hotline at 05-547 7933 (Ipoh), 04-281 5161 (Penang) or 03-7956 8144 (Klang Valley).

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