Suicides in Singapore rise to 22-year high: report

SINGAPORE | Suicides in Singapore rose nearly 26 percent last year to their highest level in more than two decades, reflecting the “unseen mental distress” in the city-state, according to a local NGO.

The suicide rates among young people aged 10-29 and elderly people aged 70-79 were particularly concerning, the prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in its annual press release containing statistics on the issue.

A total of 476 individuals killed themselves in 2022, “the highest recorded suicide deaths since 2000”, up from 378 the year before, the SOS release said.

“Seeing the unprecedented rise in suicide numbers in Singapore is profoundly heartbreaking,” veteran psychiatrist and mental health consultant Jared Ng was quoted as saying.

“This increase paints a picture of the unseen mental distress permeating our society, especially amongst our youths and the elderly.

“It is crucial that we remain vigilant to the pressing issues that continue to heavily impact mental health, such as social isolation and loneliness.”

Suicide “remained the leading cause of death for youths aged 10-29 for the fourth consecutive year”, accounting for 33.6 percent of all deaths within the age group, the release said.

A total of 125 individuals from that age bracket took their own lives in 2022, up 11.6 percent from 112 the previous year.

Globally, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among those aged 15-29, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Singapore, the number of people aged 70-79 who took their own lives surged to 48 last year, a 60 percent increase from 30 in 2021, according to SOS.

The city-state, which has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, has a rapidly ageing population, with one in four Singaporeans projected to be 65 or older by 2030, up from one in six three years ago.

SOS chief executive Gasper Tan said suicide was a “complex issue influenced by various factors, including mental health challenges, social pressures, and economic uncertainties”.

“We recognise the urgency of the situation, and are committed to continue taking proactive steps to address the rising suicide numbers and provide support to those in need,” he added.

More than 700,000 people around the world die by suicide every year, the WHO says. – AFP / pic TMR File