The Straits times reported that there’s a 60% increase in seniors in Singapore taking their own lives. I hope Singaporeans are not going to take a back seat after reading the article, instead, I’m hopeful that fellow Singaporeans will be saying how can we all do our part to help?
We as a community need to work on social inclusion, work on de-stigmatising the negative stereotypes of ageing, mental health and chronic illness.
We know what we need to do, we know it takes a community effort, a top down and bottom up approach. From policy to public education to infrastructure, it takes a community, it takes a kampong, it takes heart.
We saw Singaporeans come together for events like SG50, stand strong during the SARS, we have sailed through one economic crisis after another, standing strong together as a nation, and yet we have let our elders down.
We’ve taken on NIMBY attitudes, mental illness is still feared and jeered, and we continue to expect others to manage these issues and not prevent them. We all can play a part as Singaporeans to provide support and care, in fact there’s research that indicates that caring can contribute to our own positive well-being (Jagger, Carol et al. 2015).
We need to stop managing issues and work to prevent them, to help fellow older Singaporeans to live well, to live comfortably, with dignity and respect. To feel accepted, included, and be part of the greater community. It’s painful to think that a fellow Singaporean in our day and age feel that they cannot reach out for help, to feel like a burden, to feel like they should not have existed to unburden themselves or others from suffering.
We know healthy ageing is possible (Raposa et al. 2015). We need to open our hearts to love more, to learn more, achieve happiness as one people, one nation, and to pass on positive values to our children.
Helplines in Singapore
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800- 221-4444 (24-hour)
IMH Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222 (24-hour)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Seniors Helpline: 1800-555-5555
Singapore News -The golden years are losing their lustre for a rising number of the elderly here, with more taking their lives in the later phase of life. There is a nearly 60 per cent jump from figure in 2000; social isolation and physical and mental ill health may be contributing factors. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Jagger, Carol et al. (2015). A comparison of health expectancies over two decades in England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II. The Lancet, Published online.
Raposa E.B Laws H.B Ansell E.B (2015). Prosocial Behavior Mitigates the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life. Clinical Psychological Science. Published before print.