Suicide prevention is responsibility of all

Updated: 2018-09-12 07:24

(HK Edition)

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The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of the University of Hong Kong announced its latest report on suicide research and prevention in Hong Kong on Monday to mark the annual World Suicide Prevention Day. The report notes that Hong Kong's suicide rate in 2017, based on figures provided by the Coroner's Court, was 12.4 per 100,000 people, slightly lower than the year before (12.5 per 100,000). However, the suicide rate among full-time school students aged 15-24 had surged more than 70 percent over five years (2012-2016). Yip suggested the sharp rise of suicides among full-time school students could indicate that schools are losing their ability to prevent suicide among students.

Researchers and professional counselors agree there are usually multiple factors behind each suicide, which means prevention must pursue a multipronged approach. For suicide prevention among school students, the standard practice usually includes school (counselors and teachers), family (parents and/or siblings), clinic (medical psychologist), society (neighborhood and friends) and government (helpline and police).

When it comes to execution of such a multipronged preventive mechanism, however, it is quite difficult to have all parties concerned on the same page at any given moment. That is why many researchers believe suicide prevention efforts must be focused and constant once a suicidal subject is identified - with no stone unturned in terms of eliminating possible causes.

It is widely agreed that Hong Kong's suicide rate among full-time school students has a lot to do with heavy pressure to achieve academic excellence in school - particularly in secondary school. It is not at all hard to understand given that, like all predominantly Chinese communities, good education signified by high exam scores is seen as the most critical step toward one's future success, including a respectable and well-paying job and comfortable lifestyle.

Perhaps most tragic of it all is that parents and teachers more often than not failed to intervene to prevent their children/students struggling with academic performance from taking their own lives as the ultimate way out. That means all adults related to school children in distress one way or another need to be more observant, sensitive and mindful of the minors' behavior in their presence, especially when the children in question appear dejected.

Suicide prevention is personal and communal at the same time as it affects a whole society. Its effectiveness depends on the people close to the suicidal subject as much as the local community. Even complete strangers can help directly or via social media. It is everybody's responsibility to reach out and help someone who may be suicidal with compassion and understanding. Political parties can and should contribute to such efforts by forgoing propaganda designed to nurture anti-social sentiment among the younger generation. Instead they should encourage young people to pursue happiness through positive thinking and constructive behavior.

Suicide prevention is responsibility of all

(HK Edition 09/12/2018 page8)