I REFER to the report “Suicide cases on the rise” (The Star, Sept 11). The fact that many teenagers are thinking about ending their lives means that we need to do something.What could lead someone to suicide? Normally, it is not a single factor but a combination of many factors that pushes someone to the brink of suicide. A person who ends his or her life does not necessarily want to die; it is the unbearable emotional pain that the person wants to end.
Suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing it. It is important to learn about the warning signs of suicidal intention because up to 80% of those who are thinking of ending their lives give out warning signs. These warning signs are not made up to get attention; they are desperate cries for help.
When we are able to recognise the distress signs, we may be able to intervene and offer help. People who are feeling suicidal usually also feel very hopeless and helpless. The hopelessness and helplessness drive them to isolation where it seems as if no one cares. We can help to change this. We can offer our care and empathise with them. Most of the time, this is enough to lessen their isolation.
It would be good to equip ourselves with skills in listening and offering support to those in distress. Sometimes we feel helpless ourselves, not knowing what to do or how to help. However, simply being there for a person who is feeling depressed or suicidal is already a good start.
To those who are struggling, please reach out. If you feel that you may be having mental health issues, there is help available in public (you can start with any health clinic or Mentari centre) or private settings.
If you are emotionally troubled, it may be helpful to talk to someone about your problems. Look for someone you trust and are comfortable with. If you find it difficult to talk to a person you know, there are always helplines such as the Befrienders where you can talk without fear of being judged and also remain anonymous. There are nine Befrienders centres in Malaysia and all calls are free of charge. (The Befrienders KL can be reached via its 24-hour toll-free helpline 03-79568145 and email at email@example.com)
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Member, Mental Health Advisory Council