In Singapore, every month last year more than two young people, aged 10 to 19 committed suicide.

The number of suicides in 2015 totalled 27, twice as many as the year 2014 and the highest in 15 years. The rate also stands in contrast with the overall reported suicide rate in Singapore, which last year, was the lowest since 2012.

Troubled young people who reach out to suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) cite mental health issues, academic pressure, and relationship problems at home and in school as their greatest source of stress.

The number of young people in Singapore has decreased by 7.1 per cent since 2012, whereas the number of suicides in this group has risen. This increases the urgency of identifying and helping children at risk and in the bigger picture, to prevent a population problem, said experts.

Overall, there were 409 reported suicides in the 2015 financial year, compared with 415 in 2014.

This translates to a suicide rate of 8.43 per 100,000 population, a drop from 10.27 in 2012, yet the suicide rates amongst teenagers is a major point of concern.

Teenage years: Identity crisis and sense of belonging


The teenage years can be a difficult time when young people struggle with issues of identity and belonging, said the Samaritans of Singapore. At greater risk are those who have mental health issues and are stressed by home and study environments.

Academic welfare plays a huge role for Singaporean students. Students are often unhappy with the education system and are stressed, shaping school life into a burden. There are very little sports and activity times to refresh their minds during school times. Children from the age of 6 begin their academic journey whereby they are trained to work hard for exams.

At home, parents are concerned about their academic grades and force students to continue extra studies at home, reducing or omitting time for games or entertainment.

A survey among students was conducted to understand the reason behind their unhappiness. 50 per cent of students told that school life is the reason behind it. Many feel like they are treated 'like a machine' and that parents and school staff want to utilise them more efficiently for social and statistical purposes.

Survey reveals that one out of three students is suffering from mental stress and depression in Singapore. About two per cent of students are suffering from depression, 10 per cent are suffering from stress and 12 per cent have anxiety issues.

Besides that, technology is also a concern, as teenagers are particularly susceptible to negative online influences leading to self-doubt and self-depreciation, steering them into harming themselves or developing suicidal tendencies, according to Ms Petrine Lim, principal social worker at Fei Yue Community Services.

Spend more time with your children


"Parents who are increasingly busy nowadays might not spend enough time with their children to be able to pick up their changes in mood," said Ms Lim.

"This results in those who are feeling really depressed going online to try to find out how to deal with depression, where there are a whole spectrum of answers and people who might try to give them an outlet for their pain."

Teenagers who lack healthy outlets to express their pain, such as a supportive family and social network, tend to be at risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts, said counsellors.

Madam Wendy Goh, 31, a housewife and mother of five children aged from one to 10 years old, said she tried to make time at night to listen to every child.

She said in Mandarin: "I think it's important to spend some alone time with each of them, hear how their day has been and how they feel at the end of it."

In other findings, while men made up two-thirds of overall reported suicides, fewer took their lives last year than the year before. In 2015, 271 men and 138 women committed suicide, compared with 292 men and 123 women in 2014. MIMS

Helplines


• Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
• Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
• Institute of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222
• Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

Sources:
http://www.studentsassignmenthelp.com/blogs/singapore-students-stress-statistics-2/
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/teen-suicides-highest-in-15-years-but-overall-rate-falls