Suicides among our young is on the rise in Singapore.
According to a report by the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), there has been a 10% rise in the number of suicides in Singapore this year as compared to 2019, with the most vulnerable group being boys from 10 to 19.
Unfortunately, this increase in teenage suicides is also a worrying trend around the world.
Are youths finding the right outlet to seek help as they struggle to battle the inner demons of depression and hopelessness that are tearing them apart?
Some studies have pointed to social media being a cause for depression and some commentators have even blamed the media for leading already-troubled people astray, citing shows like “13 Reasons Why” for giving teens the wrong ideas.
But all media, social media especially, are tools to exacerbate and accelerate trends. Just like negativity and toxicity can spread like a consuming wildfire online, the Internet can also be used as a platform for positive messages.
A recent Reddit thread tackled the issue of suicide head on. The post, simply titled “If you are suicidal, please read this” took an honest, yet positive approach to dealing with suicidal thoughts.
Talking about suicide honestly, with no drama
In the post, redditor u/thefibrobee started off with a jarring observation. He said: “[If] you’ve decided to end it all, just postponing it slightly won’t make much of a difference… either way you do it you’ll be equally dead, so why not give yourself one last happy moment?”
He suggested taking time out of the daily grind to do something you enjoy ‒ a walk or a meal at a nice restaurant, adding that “Oftentimes when people do that, they realise that their lives are actually not that bad after all and still worth living and holding on to hope that things may get better soon.”
He continued: “With that, you may then realise that there are still things you wanna do in life and places you wanna see and people you wanna meet after all and ending your life right now will take away all opportunities to do these things. Why not start doing these things now in your life so that you’ll be without regrets or what-ifs?”
u/thefibrobee then confessed why he could talk about death in such a casual manner.
“I’m a two-time suicide survivor (2014 & 2015), and when I was suicidal the third time back in 2017, I had found this advice and decided to put it into practice since I had nothing to lose anyway…”
When I read that revelation, it changed the feel of the thread immediately for me. It wasn’t a well-intentioned but slightly tone-deaf piece of advice from an outsider who doesn’t understand what it means to live with depression. It was a personal anecdote from a fellow struggler who has battled and steadied himself against self-harm.
Find your own coping mechanism
As someone who struggles with feelings of hopelessness and also has also had experiences of feeling down and depressed, this reddit thread caught my attention because it dealt with the serious topic of mental health and suicide in a matter-of-fact way.
I was taken aback by u/thefibrobee’s candour yet was inspired by the creative solutions he brought up. They weren’t the conventional ones like “see a psychiatrist or a counsellor” that we probably have heard about a million times.
Please note that I’m not saying that’s not useful.
Personally, I believe that getting professional help and the encouragement we receive from our support groups does help to shift your mindset towards hope and positivity.
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But I also believe that in battle against self-harm, the key element is yourself: You need to want to break out of your rut.
It is important to find our own way of coping with such negative feelings and more often than not, our biggest enemy is ourselves.
Be conscious of toxic triggers and take preventive measures
The honest post sparked many positive responses.
When one redditor IamPsauL raised the question: “How did you manage to find the strength to continue looking forward to living?”, u/thefibrobee replied, saying: “I think it’s a combination of therapy, my own faith beliefs, being firm to make difficult decisions to temporarily cut out the toxic/triggering persons in my life.”
It is important for us to treasure living. To do so, we need to first embrace our lives as precious and recognise that no matter where we are right now, we have the potential to create value.
Cutting out toxicity is critical in the healing process. You don’t have to convince people to agree with you, you just need to not let them get to you. It can be difficult sometimes when toxicity could come from a family member or a close friend. You may not always be able to avoid them, but you can still “flee” from them mentally and emotionally by guarding your heart and mind with positive affirmation and supportive people.
Other times, it is not people but circumstance that pressure us. We let ourselves get blinded by external factors that trigger negative thoughts in us and choose to see life as bleak and without joy. Instead of letting these triggers eat us up, we need the wisdom to see them as external factors and make conscious efforts to cut them off from our lives.
Plan for an exponential growth in positivity to your life
This brings me to my last point.
We have all heard of the term “survival of the fittest”. During this pandemic, with the uncertainty that is growing day by day, we must do something on our end to counter this challenge that has come our way.
My challenge to you is to chart a path of positivity in your life.
Take control of your life. Identify what you can control and release what you can’t. Acknowledge that you cannot fix everything today, but you can fix one thing. Then tomorrow, you fix another. Walk that path of positivity, one step at a time.
Take joy in small victories. Stop and smell the roses. Learn from, then let go of the failures. Accept defeats as part of your growth journey. Remember your successes.
Doing this is akin to arming yourself with “bullets” of positivity, ready to fire off at any negativity that strikes you in unguarded moments.
Everyone struggles with feeling down from time to time (though some may have it more than others) and it is okay not to be okay.
To all of you who may be struggling with finding joy in living, it is time to think about life objectively by recognising the good and bad in our life as what they are.
Every one of us has the innate potential to sift through the dregs of our life to find the gems in every situation.
This probably makes our life worth living, doesn’t it?
If you are feeling distressed, or know someone who is feeling suicidal, get help immediately. Talk to somebody. Here are some helplines.
National Care Hotline: 1800 202 6868 (8am-12am daily, from 1 Sep 2020)