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Suicides in Hong Kong

Preventing youth suicide takes awareness and help, more than self-control

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 6:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 6:03am

It is a sad reflection on Hong Kong, a city with vast wealth, resources and aspirations, that the youth suicide rate continues to rise (“More Hong Kong students taking their own lives, study by Jockey Club suicide research centre finds”, September 10).

In 2016, as many as 74 young people in the city under 24 years of age took their own lives. The reasons for suicide are multiple and complex, reflecting the many pressures on young people, as well as underlying mental health issues. Preventing suicide is equally complex and requires effort and co-ordination in the community, schools, social services, the NGO sector and among families, to acknowledge that there are young people who are struggling with their feelings, and that there are strategies that can help.

Children and young people need our understanding and reassurance that feeling low, finding life hard to deal with, being anxious and, yes, even having suicidal thoughts, are surprisingly common feelings and that they are not alone in this.

The Post reported on September 11 that Hong Kong experts consider that building self-control in children will contribute to the reduction in the suicide rate (“To reduce youth suicide, teach children self-control and let them develop social skills, say experts”). That passes responsibility for the “problem” to the young person. The responsibility in fact falls to us all to be more open, informed and accepting about mental health, and to be prepared to open up and talk about it.

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Rather than thinking about self-control, let’s aim to develop children’s self-awareness and self-helping skills. Through knowledge, understanding and education, we can help children know more about their own mental health, be better equipped to recognise what they are experiencing and be more prepared to reach out for help (“Preventing suicide among Hong Kong’s youth will take a collective effort, in school and beyond”, September 8).

We have lost too many souls. Hong Kong can help protect its young people by breaking down the stigma surrounding mental ill health and starting to talk honestly about feelings.

Ann Pearce, The Weez Project

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. In Hong Kong dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services