With the number of deaths by suicide in Taipei increasing by more than 10 percent last year, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that the city should establish a social safety net and find ways to refer those in need to talk with trained counselors.
The Taipei Department of Health said that 349 Taipei residents died by suicide last year, an increase of 10.6 percent from a year earlier.
To raise public awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention, the department announced that it would be holding a series of events from yesterday to Oct. 31 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
The majority of deaths by suicide in Taipei last year involved people aged 45 to 64, or 38.1 percent, followed by people aged 65 or older, or 28.9 percent, Mental Health Division head Tseng Guang-pei (曾光佩) said.
While the causes of suicidal behavior are complicated — more than 40 percent of suicides stem from multiple causes — relationship problems often affect young people, parental and workplace issues affect middle-aged people, and health and mental problems affect elderly people, she said.
However, interpersonal relationships affect people of all ages, so if people suspect that someone intends self-harm, they should give them support and advise them to get help from a professional counselor, she added.
A survey conducted last year by the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center of people aged 15 or older showed that only 24.8 percent would ask for help when having suicidal thoughts, and among those who would ask for help, 57.25 percent said they would talk with “family or friends” and 22.17 percent said they would seek help from a hospital psychiatric department.
Studies have shown that death by suicide among people with suicidal intent drops by about 63.5 percent if they receive specialized consultation services, and that about 60 percent of those with suicidal intent left messages revealing their conflicted emotions before attempting suicide, said Chang Shu-sen (張書森), an assistant professor at National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health.
Attending the news conference yesterday, Ko said that many people aged 45 to 64 experience the pressures of raising children and caring for elderly parents, so the government must enhance childcare and care for elderly people to relieve the stress of family caregivers.
The city government also needs to set up a better social safety net for those with suicidal intent so that they have a support network and people can take care of each other, Ko said, adding that better ways of referring at-risk people to professional help must be found.
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