Mon, Sep 09, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Stigma may hinder suicide prevention: expert

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Public stigma makes it more difficult for people with suicidal thoughts to seek treatment and receive social support, Taiwanese Society of Suicidology (TSS) president Lee Ming-Been (李明濱) said yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide is a global problem, with about 1 million suicides committed each year, or about one every 40 seconds, and a suicide attempt every four seconds, the TSS said.

“In Taiwan, the total number of suicides last year was 3,766, an increase from the figure recorded in 2011, but still lower than the peak of 4,406 seen in 2006,” Lee said. “Following the establishment of the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center by the government in 2005, suicide rates have been decreasing since 2007 and dropped out of the top 10 leading causes of death in 2010.”

A survey by the center showed that 7.3 percent of respondents older than 15 are emotionally distressed, 52.4 percent of which say they have contemplated suicide.

Less than one-quarter of those who reported being emotionally distressed (24.6 percent) sought medical attention, TSS secretary-general Liao Shih-cheng (廖士程) said.

Experts say societal prejudice is a factor in deterring people from seeking assistance, Liao said.

This year’s survey was expanded to assess awareness of and societal attitudes toward suicide and people who take their own lives, the center said.

The poll found that 87.3 percent of those surveyed think suicide is irresponsible, 81.7 percent believe it is selfish and 59.6 percent consider it to be an “easy way out.”

However, 70.7 percent said that suicide should be publicly discussed and 62.2 percent expressed a willingness to contribute to suicide prevention efforts, Liao said.

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