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Send an SOS via social media: #ThroughTheNight campaign to reach out to at-risk youth

SINGAPORE — Unable to sleep, feeling high-strung and stressed out after several failed relationships, 98.7FM radio deejay Sonia Chew started to question why life could be so cruel.

Send an SOS via social media: #ThroughTheNight campaign to reach out to at-risk youth

SINGAPORE — Unable to sleep, feeling high-strung and stressed out after several failed relationships, 98.7FM radio deejay Sonia Chew started to question why life could be so cruel.

The bubbly radio personality was hit by anxiety and paranoia, which eventually led to insomnia.

"It affected my mood, my attitude, my health, my relationships, my life," said the 26-year-old, who revealed in her Facebook post that the longest she went without sleep was close to four days.

"I was shrouded in negativity and couldn't see the positive side of things no matter how hard I tried."

Ms Chew is one of several personalities here who have partnered with the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) to contribute to an ongoing campaign to reach out to at-risk youth.

Sharing her story with the public, Ms Chew said she managed to change her perspective on life with the love and support from her family and closest friends.

"I emerged a happier, stronger, more resilient person who chooses not to waste my energy on toxic company and negativity, and to see the brighter side of things," she said.

Offering a message of solidarity and support, Ms Chew urged anyone going through a rough patch — or if they know of someone who is — to open up and talk about it.

"Many of us ignore the importance of mental health, and that's what leads to a lot of people resorting to unthinkable means to escape their problems…There's nothing shameful about seeking help," she added.

Aside from Ms Chew, singer-songwriter Ruth Kueo, doodle artists Oodon and Band of Doodlers, and YouTube channel Butterworks are also part of SOS' social media campaign, #ThroughTheNight, launched on Monday (Sept 10) to help teens and those in need get through their darkest hours.

An SOS spokesperson said: "For some, the night can be a haunting (time), when they are left alone with their thoughts as the world around them goes to bed, making them feel more alone than ever."

Run in conjunction with Suicide Prevention Week, the campaign — which ends on Sunday — will also see SOS' partners hosting "live" sessions on their social channels from midnight till 3am to engage their fans on the issue of suicide.

Members of the public are also encouraged to contribute a message of support by using the hashtag on Instagram.

SOS had embarked on the social media campaign to reach out to young people, as they had noticed a rise in teens contacting the organisation by email or calling its hotline.

There was a 53 per cent increase in the number of teens aged between 10 and 19 reaching out to SOS via email. It also noticed a sharp increase in the number of youth from the same age group calling its hotline. The 2017/18 fiscal year saw 2,059 callers, compared with 1,883 from the previous year.

Many young people may also find it difficult to talk about their struggles, and to express the pain they are feeling to their loved ones due to the heavy stigma around mental health, said the SOS spokesperson.

"With a fear of being dismissed, ridiculed, judged as weak, or classified as mentally unsound, they seek alternative platforms (such as email) for emotional support."

The spokesperson added that some of the common stressors highlighted from its 24-hour hotline and Email Befriending service included "mental health issues, academic pressure and relationship problems at home and in school".

"It's time we form a more empathetic community by spreading hope to people going through their darkest times," said the spokesperson.

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