Men's suicide rates rise over past decade as overall numbers decline
SINGAPORE — While the number of suicides continued to dip last year, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has noticed an increase in suicides among men over the past 10 years, with the increase among older men aged 60 to 69 being especially significant.
SINGAPORE — While the number of suicides continued to dip last year, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has noticed an increase in male suicides over the last 10 years, with the increase among older men aged 60 to 69 being especially significant.
There were 415 suicides last year, down from 422 in 2013, and 467 in 2012. However, suicides among men increased by 29 per cent from 227 in 2004 to 292 last year, while female suicides decreased by 20 per cent over the same period. This means that for every two women who died by suicide, there were about five suicides by men last year, up from three in 2004.
Among 60 to 69 year-olds, the number of suicides among men increased by 117 per cent, from 24 in 2004 to 52 last year.
Ms Christine Wong, executive director of SOS, a non-profit suicide prevention centre, said the disparity may be due to differences in coping skills and help-seeking behaviour between men and women.
“Males tend to compare themselves to a masculine standard role, which emphasises greater levels of strength, independence and risk-taking behaviour. They feel the continuous pressure to solve issues faced on their own and suppress feelings of distress,” she said in a media release.
The elderly, she noted, tend to adhere more strongly to traditional gender roles.
“As the male stereotype encourages self-reliance and self-control, elderly males may fear stigma and embarrassment should they approach others for help,” she said. “Some of the common issues faced by males in this age group include illness and the fear of prolonged illness, social isolation, death of spouse or family member and major life changes due to retirement. Some may fear they would become dependent on, or a burden to, their children.”
Some signs of distress to look out for among loved ones include verbal warning signs such as bidding farewell and threatening to kill themselves. A person may try to tidy up their affairs, write suicide notes or give away their treasured belongings, as part of pre-suicide planning.
Other signs of distress include emotional or behavioural changes such as dramatic changes in mood, intense anger and unusual sleeping patterns. A person may also withdraw from family, friends or society, and increase consumption of alcohol or drugs.
The SOS said those in distress and who need to talk about their struggles can call the 24-hour SOS hotline at 1800-221 4444 to speak to a volunteer, or email pat [at] sos.org.sg for emotional support.
Care Corner Counselling Centre provides counselling in Mandarin and personality assessment. They can be reached at 1800-35-35-800. Com Care Call is also a 24-hour toll-free helpline for Singaporeans to access social services, and can be reached at 1800-222 0000.