A survey conducted by the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center yesterday suggested that approximately 520,000 people in Taiwan might have suicidal tendencies, but only about one-third of them ask for help.
In an effort to promote World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, the center and the Taiwanese Society of Suicidology released a survey in Taipei yesterday.
The survey showed 6.1 percent of the population above 15 years old in Taiwan — about 1.23 million people — have emotional issues, while about 42.7 percent among them — 520,000 people — have suicidal tendencies, center chief executive Liao Shih-cheng (廖士程) said.
Liao said that only 34.6 percent of those with emotional issues have sought medical treatment, which might be because of social stigma attached to admitting depression or mental illness; because they are absorbed in their emotions and do not believe asking for medical treatment can help them; or because they underestimate the seriousness of their situation.
Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said that 3,675 people committed suicide in Taiwan last year, an increase of 133 people from 2014, while two age groups — people 75 years old or above and those aged between 15 and 24 — showed the greatest increases.
Reasons linked to suicide can vary: from the global economic recession, the aging population, to feelings of alienation, Lin said, adding that the ministry will enhance mental healthcare and suicide monitoring systems, and increase visits with and evaluations of individuals in at-risk groups in a bid to prevent suicides.
Center director Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said there are many reasons behind suicide, including unemployment, pain and disease.
Liao said mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, often occur in young people, with several cases involving people aged from 15 to 24 who have such conditions, while they tend to act more impulsively to media reports.
Cases among elderly people are linked to chronic disease or feelings of alienation from living alone, he added.
As a cross-ministerial reporting system was ended in 2014, Lee urged the government to establish a cross-ministerial mental illness and suicide prevention net.
Lee urged people to care more about their friends and family, spend time to listening and help them seek medical treatment if they exhibit suicidal tendencies.
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