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Suicide Prevention

According to a local study published in 1997, a sharp increase in suicide rate was found among the group aged 75 or over. Males aged 75 or above (especially those who are never married), suffering from chronic illnesses and/ or mental illnesses like depression are some of the risk factors for elderly suicide. As most suicide is closely related depression, prevention of suicide is by early detection and treatment of depression.

Common signs and symptoms of depression include:

A. Emotional:

  • Sad/ depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in ordinary activities or hobbies
  • Negative/ pessimistic thinking
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt
  • Nervousness, irritability, anxiety

B. Physical:

  • Fatigue/ loss of energy
  • Significant change in appetite
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Vague somatic complaints without medical cause (e.g. headache, stomach ache, chronic ache and pain)

C. Cognitive:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Diminished ability to think
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inappropriate self-blame and guilt
  • Suicidal thought

D. Behavioral:

  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Psychomotor agitation and/ or retardation
  • Untidy or disheveled physical appearance
  • Low in energy, inability to enjoy life
  • Fail to fulfill own duties

*If there is suspicion of depression, seek medical advice right away.

Studies show that about 70% of those who comitted suicide showed some signal. They may indicate their suicidal intent to their family, carers, health professional or social worker directly or indirectly. Under such circumstance, immediate help should be provided with active listening to understand the reason for suicidal thought, to give support and encouragement and to seek professional help as appropriate. As regards the elderly themselves, they should share worries with family, friends or people who are trusted. Avoid being alone and participate in social activities (e.g. morning exercises, activities in social centers for the elderly)

If there is suicidal ideas, seek help from 24-hour counseling hotline e.g. Samaritan Hotline: 2389 2222 or medical professionals.