Reluctance to seek help a factor in male suicides

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2012, 12:00am


Twice as many men as women commit suicide in Hong Kong because they are reluctant to seek help for emotional problems, a counsellor says.

Kathy Wong Shui-fong, a counsellor with more than 20 years' experience at the Family Wellness Centre of the Young Women's Christian Association, said men didn't want to appear weak.

'Traditional values require men to have ability, to compete and to have confidence,' Wong said at the launch of a book about the cases of 10 people she treated at the centre.

'Seeking help from counselling seems to make them feel like they are weak and fragile.'

Wong said that of about 300 cases the centre handled in the past year, little more than a quarter were men.

According to the World Health Organisation, the suicide rate per 100,000 of population in Hong Kong is 19 for men and 10 for women.

Wong said many men went to the centre only because their wives urged them to do so. They also pretended they wanted to discuss a spouse's problem when the problems were really their own, Wong said.

But once men felt comfortable talking to a counsellor they would share their emotions, which helped solve their problems.

Fong Kit, one man whose experiences are cited in the book, Stand By Me, Soul Stories on the Counselling Journey, struggled with his emotions for decade after a close female friend died before seeking help

Fong, in his 40s, would weep and feel devastated on every anniversary of her death. 'Even when I decided to seek help from the counsellor, as I knew I could not stand it any more, I did not know how to express my feelings to her.' He worked through that problem but is still seeing the counsellor in an effort to 'find himself'.

Wong said family and friends had to be tolerant with men who were suffering emotional problems.

They should help them to talk it through, even just by listening.