Increase in suicide cases

Azlan Othman

Statistics obtained from the Royal Brunei Police Force show an increase in the suicide rate, from 1.9 cases per 100,000 population in 2015 to 23.6 cases per 100,000 population in 2018.

This was highlighted in a message by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar to mark World Mental Health Day 2019.

“Although these statistics still show low suicide rates compared to other countries, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to worry about it. In fact, we need to take more effective preventive measures to address this problem before it becomes a serious and difficult issue,” said the minister.

“World Mental Health Day is celebrated globally on October 10. It is an initiative introduced by the World Federation for Mental Health to promote, and raise awareness about the importance of mental health and related issues.

“This year’s World Mental Health Day carries the theme ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’.”

“As a society that wants inclusivity and does not discriminate, we need to be more open towards dealing with mental health issues and address them through an appropriate cultural approach that helps and respects one another.

“In any case, we need to maintain an environment that is conducive towards encouraging those with mental health problems to seek help, rather than feeling embarrassed, isolated or discouraged.

“This year’s World Mental Health Day focusses on preventing suicide. According to the World Health Organization, (WHO) more than one suicide cases occur every 40 seconds worldwide, or 800,000 people each year.

“Suicide is the second highest cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29, where young people are at greater risk of suicide due to violence, sexual abuse and bullying, including cyber-bullying.

“Suicide, or a suicidal attempt, is caused by complex matters and is not always easy to understand. In addition to depression and other mental health problems, suicide and suicidal behaviour are also considered to be caused by a combination of social, psychological, biological, economic, environmental, beha-vioural and cultural factors.

“However, suicide issues can actually be prevented, especially if those with mental health problems get early treatment.

“As a caring community, we need to change our perception of mental health issues, as well as those with mental health problems, so that we can work together to prevent any suicide.

“The use of social media also plays a role in preventing suicide. On this occasion, I would like to remind and solicit the cooperation of the public, especially all social media users in this country, to play a role in reminding each other and promoting responsible behaviour, including avoiding from publishing or disseminating things that are baseless, wrong or disturbing, and to always respect the privacy and dignity of others.

Alhamdulillah, the government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, through the Ministry of Health, has made continuous efforts to promote good mental health and prevent suicides.

“This includes running various health programmes such as ‘Mind Your Mind’ and ‘Free Bullying’. Also this year, the Ministry of Health has introduced Talian Harapan 145 to provide assistance and advice to those experiencing emotional distress or crisis, including anxiety or suicide.

Talian Harapan 145 also provides information on ways to access mental health services in the country either by walk-ins or appointments at facilities under the Ministry of Health. For those who need help in cases of emergency, they can get help at the emergency department at a nearby hospital.

“In addition, the Ministry of Health also has a wide range of professionals including psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, physicians and medical welfare officers to help those with mental health problems recover and become healthier.

“The WHO estimates that one in four people around the world suffer from or can be affected by mental health problems in their lives.

“I would also like to encourage those who have friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or loved ones who are experiencing difficulties or stress, to be present and spend time with them, and to listen to their problems patiently and without judgement.

“Give them hope, help and kindness and encourage them to seek professional treatment and offer to accompany them to the health clinic for a doctor’s appointment. Supporting them to continue to seek help or treatment, Insya Allah, will bring about positive change for them to recover and improve.”