0308 GMT February 18, 2019
The number of people crying out for help has increased by 16 percent, from 21,256 in 2015 to 24,821 last year, nst.com reported.
Befriender’s KL publicity director Ardy Ayadali said 7,446 who called last year had suicidal intentions, compared with 5,739 in 2015.
“Although suicide is more common among older people in most parts of the world, research shows that suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 15 and 29 in Malaysia,” he said.
Ardy said 21 percent of callers were aged 21 to 30; 15 percent were below 20; 13 percent were between 31 and 40; and 36 percent were of unknown ages.
“The numbers are higher when it comes to email, as the younger generation prefers to write.”
Befrienders received 3,443 emails from people reaching out for help last year, compared with 2,685 emails in 2015 and 2,283 in 2014.
Eighteen percent of the emails were from youth under 19, 27 percent were from the 20 to 29 age group and five percent were from the 30 to 39 age group.
The remaining 46 percent of emails did not mention the senders’ ages.
“Most of the time, all they want is to end the emotional pain that they are feeling. And when nothing else works, suicide comes to mind.”
Ardy said the most common trigger for suicide among the callers was depression.
“Another trigger is a broken relationship, although with support and help, they tend to feel better after a considerable period of time.
“It also depends on the person’s coping mechanisms and their support system. Another alarming trend we notice is self-harm, especially among teens.
“There is no clear relationship between self-harm and suicide, but the worry is the pain that causes them to self-harm may also drive them to suicide.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Center consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Assoc Professor Fairuz Nazri Abd Rahman said a 2014 study titled ‘Completed Suicides and Self-Harm in Malaysia: A Systematic Review’ stated that the prevalence of suicide in Malaysia was six to eight per 100,000 population per year.
She said in developing countries like Malaysia, the highest suicide rate was found among the young (below 30) while married women were also at higher risk.
Ardy said there was increasing evidence that social media could contribute to suicide-related behavior.
“Social media can lead to isolation, and teenagers tend to shut themselves off from the world.
“The role of social media and its potential influence on suicide-related behavior is continuously evolving. New threats can surface at any time.
“Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behavior within one’s family, peer group or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors.”
Cyberbullying, he said, was another huge issue.
Ardy said sometimes people who posted about their suicidal intentions online received negative feedback and were accused of being attention seekers. He said sometimes netizens even challenged them to go through with it.
“Last year, someone who was suffering from mental illness wrote about her intention to end her life on her social media page.
“Unfortunately, the comments and responses that she received were mostly negative, with Malaysian netizens posting harsh words to the point of harassment, which constitutes cyberbullying.
“This pushed her self esteem further down and put her at even higher risk of committing suicide.”
Ardy said communication between parents and children was crucial to keep things in check.
“We receive many calls and emails from children who are going through problems in life, especially depression or other types of mental illnesses. When they try to talk to their parents about it, they often get brushed aside.
“The parents sometimes feel that the issue is not serious enough, and they do not seek help or do not help their children at all. Once this happens, the children will be more reluctant to talk to them when they encounter other difficulties in the future.”