Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Signs of a Suicidal Person

Methinks that my blogpost “A Suicide at Sunway University” – here, at this link: – will not be my last on the subject because the issue of suicide is real and recurring.

In fact, many of us are alarmed if not concerned about this tragic incident which perhaps explains why that particular post garnered 21,209 views in 68 days (i.e. November 13, 2015 when I first posted it until today).

Therefore, this is a follow-up to the said post.

On July 02, 2015, a Chung Ling High School student sitting for his STPM examination this year leapt to his death from the 19th floor of an Air Itam flat in Penang.

On August 05, a 20-year old Taylor’s University student died when he jumped from 7-storeys above.

On November 12, an A-Level student at Sunway University plunged to her death from the 11th floor of the University building. And before that, another student had tried to jump from Sun-U Residence.

On November 24, an SPM candidate from SMK Raja Abdullah hung himself in his family home in Jinjang, KL.

Four suicides and one attempted suicide. But are we doing anything to prevent young lives being lost?

Mostly, we hear perfunctory expressions of regret and if there is a tinge of disquiet, real or otherwise – we are ever ready to dish out advice after the suicide has occurred.

In fact, one senior manager at one of these said places had advised students that “if they had been affected by the ‘incident’ to contact the Counselling Unit or walk into the Student Services Department”.

That was a languid response, if you ask me.

This person also used the innocuous phrase "has fallen from a high floor". You and I know very well that ‘fall’ and ‘jump’ do not share the same meaning. The word ‘fall’ implies an accident whilst ‘jump’ is intentional.

What was she really trying to convey? Anyway, I digress. I am more bothered about the students who have been caught under the spell of depression. What are we doing about it?

I am making an appeal that we please reach out to the students who may feel lost, lonely, confused, anxious, inadequate, and/or stressed. Their emotions are raw, and if let loose, can lead to depression. And untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.

Therefore, schools and tertiary institutions must act – if they genuinely care for the well-being of their students. We must have a suicide prevention program.

We should consider setting up a referral system that facilitates early and systematic identification of students with ‘problems’. Teachers and lecturers can be trained to look out for changes in students’ behavior and provide the first line of intervention to assist students with more immediate concerns.

Students too can be encouraged to support one another and encourage their friends to seek help when they encounter ‘difficulties’. Cases requiring further support are then referred to counsellors.

We can seek to strengthen the mental well-being and resilience of students through raising awareness of psychological well-being and equipping them with social and emotional skills. These include teaching them help-seeking strategies to cope with challenges; and more importantly, providing a balanced and engaging curriculum that enables students to develop holistically.

Presently, everything is geared towards a narrow definition of academic excellence. This is measured in the number of A’s one collects or an almost perfect CGPA score one attains. More importantly, we must identify students who are distressed, disturbed and distraught:

Source: Befrienders Malaysia

According to Befrienders Malaysia, there are more troubled Malaysians, especially Gen Y-ers, reaching out for help when they believe there is no other way but to end their own life.

It is both a cause for worry and hope. 'Worry' because there is a definite increase of unsettled Malaysians contemplating suicide. And 'hope' because Befrienders Malaysia views this increase as positive, as the risk of suicide diminishes when the person is able to talk about it.

It is important that we learn to recognize the suicide warning signs and we must get help for those who are anguished. Without delay.

Suicide is lives extinguished. Suicide is real. Suicide is urgent!

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