Suicide is tragic, devastating, and is often the last resort by a desperate person. This painful subject is something not many people are comfortable to discuss, but here’s the thing - what if you could actually help to make a difference?
This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), which falls on 10th September, follows the same theme it has for the past two years - “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”. Instead of shying away from the topic, this helps to highlight how professionals cannot handle the demand of mental health care in Malaysia. While a regular person is unable to cope with mental illnesses the same way medical and mental health professionals are trained to, a lot can be done to lend a hand to those facing difficult times.
According to the World Health Organisation, there is an estimated 800,000 deaths due to suicide, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. In our country, at least 5 suicides happen daily, amounting to 1, 760 in a year. That is a father, mother, child or friend lost, with an average of 135 people who grief with every suicide.
While suicide is bad in itself, attempts and thoughts of it are equally as real and severe. Every single day, 125 Malaysians try to commit suicide - a distressing figure. Stress, anxiety and depression is prevalent in varying degrees, with those who suffer from the more severe spectrum of these feelings often falling victim to thoughts of despair and hopelessness, a pathway that could lead to suicide.
The longing to end one’s own life often stems from a convergence of reasons, whether genetic, psychological, social, cultural, or even trauma. Often, sufferers require professional help, coupled with emotional support from loved ones.
With an estimated 400 psychiatrists in the country, there is only one psychiatrist to treat every 80,000 persons while the ratio for clinical psychologists stands at 0.2 for 100,000 individuals. The World Health Organisation recommends one psychiatrist for every 10, 000, but we are clearly short of that figure.
There have been a number of preventive measures put in place by various ministries, with screenings and checks carried out by the Ministry of Education at schools to provide our young ones with necessary help. Programmes by the Ministry of Health for 2019-2025 are also underway, aimed at dealing with common mental health issues. Free calls to The Befrienders are also available, provided by major telcos in Malaysia under the directive of the Communication and Multimedia Ministry. e
Despite the efforts made to tackle this issue, there is still a stigma about mental health problems in our community, resulting in many victims preferring to suffer silently due to fear or shame. We can all do our part to raise awareness by speaking freely and educating others about mental health and its effects. Compassion, empathy, listening and providing a non-judgemental space for victims to unload is a great way to provide support.
*Those who need help can call The Befrienders KL at their 24-hour toll-free
helpline 03-79568145 and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In what ways have you helped someone facing depression?
By: Celestine Foo