To prevent suicides, we must all become beacons of light for those suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic
- The pandemic has weighed heavily on people’s mental health, especially vulnerable groups such as the young, elderly and unemployed
- We can all take time to reach out, as every action can connect someone to life and to the help they need
Locally, the overall suicide rate in 2021 was 12.3 per 100,000 people, which was slightly higher than the rate of 12.1 per 100,000 in 2020. To enable a valid comparison among different regions, suicide rates are standardised and adjusted according to the age structure of the world population.
As ageing in Hong Kong is more severe than in some other places, our age-standardised suicide rate after adjustment is estimated at 9.0 for 2021, which is consistent with the global average. However, we have identified two subgroups that need special attention: older adults and young people aged 15 or below.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. Sadly, in that time, we have seen around 20,000 lives lost through suicide, with the number of affected family members possibly surpassing 100,000. Losing those closest to you creates a wound that does not heal easily, if at all. It’s important to remember that carrying on and living a good, meaningful life is the best way to honour those who have left us.
In all this time, we have not wavered in our mission, offering up our sweat and our tears. All these deaths have taught us perseverance and humility, as well as how to walk with the community. We have joined hands to march forward with people in need. We are committed to looking out for each other, bravely facing life’s challenges, together creating a better Hong Kong with hope for everyone.
We can also take time to find out what kind of help is available for ourselves and for others. We never know when we might need this knowledge, and by being aware, we can be ready to support those in need. Every action, however simple, can connect someone to life and the help they need.
Preventing suicides requires us to become beacons of light for those in pain. With persistence and by maintaining hope, we can ride out life’s storms and challenges, and our society can be better tomorrow.
Paul Yip is director of the HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong and a national representative of the International Association of Suicide Prevention