The single female suicide factor and gender differences


  • Nation
  • Friday, 08 Nov 2019

IN 2018,66% of the calls made to Befrienders Kuala Lumpur came from women, and of this, 60% of them were single.

However, Sunway Medical Centre consultant psychiatrist Dr Tee Bee Chin said the figures do not mean that women are more depressed than men, or that women have more emotional problems than men.

“By nature, women are more likely to share and talk about issues troubling them.

“On the other hand, men – based on upbringing and conditioning – are told not to cry and to stay strong in facing problems or to protect their family.

“So as a result, they tend to try and solve their problems on their own, ” she said.

Both women and men, Dr Tee explained, had different coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with problems and depression.

“Men often tend to be angry, aggressive or resort to risk-taking behaviours such as overworking, abusing substances, gambling, or changing their sexual behaviour to cope with stress, whereas women find crying and venting a relief, ” she said.

Indeed, more men actually end up committing suicide.

For family members and carers of those who are depressed or suicidal, Dr Tee said empathy and understanding were important in dealing with the problem.

“It is good to engage in open communications among family members, and try not to pathologise depression, because in doing so, you are telling the sufferer that they are mentally weak or incompetent, ” she added.

For those dealing with loved ones suffering from depression or having suicidal thoughts, Dr Tee encouraged direct communications and showing ways to seek help.

“First, validate their feelings and be patient and gentle when asking questions.

“Asking them if they are suicidal and what kind of method they are thinking of (to commit suicide) can give those who have suicidal ideas the chance to be open about their suicidal feelings, to talk about their problems, and to feel that somebody cares.

“If the sufferer is unable to function daily, offer to bring them to a doctor for help, ” she said.

Seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist at government or private hospitals involves the same procedures, with the difference being the cost and waiting time.

“In a private hospital, the patient has to pay for consultation, therapy, counselling and medication when seeing a psychiatrist.

“In a government hospital, it is free or there is a minimal fee, ” said Dr Tee.

SUICIDE FACTS AND FALLACIES: Test your knowledge


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