Sometimes even to live is an act of courage – Seneca-
More than 800,000 people die by suicide every year, which amounts to one person every 40 seconds according to the World Health Organisation. Suicide is a global phenomenon and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally.
Suicide is a topic that has been a struggle to talk about and most people shun the idea of the act of taking one’s own life. However, we are living in the 21st century, we all should be more open and aware towards this epidemic that has been happening around us lately.
Fans around the world were shaken to hear the news of the world’s funniest man and a legendary A-List actor, Robin Williams who took his own life in his home in August 2014. He was only 63 years old. Besides that, recently, frontman of the record selling Rock band, Linkin Park, Chester Bennington committed suicide and the world mourn his untimely death. No one saw it coming until close family and friends have revealed that Chester was suffering from depression for many years.
The Befrienders is a suicide prevention and non-profit organisation located in the heart of Petaling Jaya. It is modelled after Samaritans, a movement started in London in 1953 that now has over 300 centres around the world.
Current Vice Chairman of the Befrienders KL, Victor Tan thinks male suicide is a hushed subject, especially in Malaysia. In Western countries, suicide is widely discussed but in Malaysia, it is a taboo due to religious and cultural pressure.
“The situation [in the country] is probably making the society so fearful to speak of an issue that is highly distressing,” said Victor. He has seen cases where authorities would classify a death as sudden instead of suicide. Male suicide has increased by 3.5 times based on a research by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Being taught from a young age to act tough and bottle up their feelings whereas women are the expressive gender, some men feel they can’t turn to anyone. It’s one of the probable causes as to why male suicide is increasing nowadays,” Victor commented.
Having been volunteering at Befrienders for 10 years, Victor insists that we need to have a better understanding of the issue in order to break the stigma that society has on suicide victims or survivors. It could stem from undiagnosed mental illnesses like depression or anxiety disorder, which could give birth to irrational thoughts, hence why the right approach is crucial. Look out for warning signs in persons close to you; a change of mood, withdrawn and isolating themselves from people, depressed or even joking about suicide; because it’s not something anyone should laugh about. We should also do our part and educate ourselves, practice active listening and make no judgment. Victor reaffirms that whoever thinks they are suffering alone, should understand that people do care and are concerned, all that’s left to do is to reach out for help.
If you know of someone who has the above symptoms, do not hesitate to call Befrienders KL at their hotline number 03-79568144 or 03-79568145. Face-to-face counselling is also provided. Visit their website for more information: Befrienders.