Suicides in Singapore rose nearly 26 percent last year to their highest level in more than two decades, according to a local NGO, reflecting “unprecedented mental distress” in the city-state.
The Prevention Center Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in its annual press release containing statistics on the issue that suicide rates among youth aged 10-29 and the elderly aged 70-79 are particularly worrying.
A total of 476 individuals are expected to commit suicide in 2022, the SOS release said, “the highest number of suicide deaths recorded since 2000”, up from 378 a year earlier.
“It is extremely sad to see the unprecedented increase in the number of suicides in Singapore,” veteran psychiatrist and mental health consultant Jared Ng was quoted as saying.
“This increase paints a picture of invisible mental distress prevailing in our society, especially among our youth and elders.
“It is important that we remain alert to the serious issues that are having a huge impact on mental health, such as social isolation and loneliness.”
The release said suicide “remained the leading cause of death for youth aged 10-29 for the fourth year in a row”, accounting for 33.6 percent of all deaths within this age group.
A total of 125 people in that age group will take their own lives in 2022, up 11.6 percent from 112 last year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among people aged 15-29 globally.
In Singapore, the number of people aged 70-79 who took their own lives rose to 48 last year, up 30 to 60 percent in 2021, according to SOS.
The city-state, which has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, has a rapidly aging population, with one in four Singaporeans expected to be aged 65 or over by 2030, up from six three years ago. There is more than one.
SOS chief executive Gaspar Tan said suicide is a complex issue influenced by a variety of factors, including mental health challenges, social pressures and economic uncertainties.
“We recognize the urgency of the situation, and are committed to taking proactive steps to address the rising suicide numbers and provide support to those in need,” he added.
WHO says that more than 700,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year.