Public must take suicide threats seriously: Befrienders Kuching

KUCHING: The general public must take suicide threats on social media seriously as means to prevent suicide says Befrienders Kuching.

“Suicide prevention is a combined community effort and no one party is solely responsible for its prevention and control,” said Befrienders Kuching secretary Kelly Lee when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune.

“When a person is making suicide threats, the public should try to encourage the suicidal person to seek professional help.

“In addition, they can actively identify people who are at risk and be emergency responders that assist in suicide watch where they will check on the suicidal person if someone alerted them about it,” she added.

Kelly pointed out that while Befrienders Kuching encourages active moderation and responds online, social media users should not take on the role of mental health care professionals.

“All engagement with at-risk individuals should be designed to provide appropriate support while connecting that individual to local mental healthcare providers or crisis resources such as Lifeline,” she said.

She highlighted that educating people on mental health and suicide prevention is crucial from a community standpoint.

“First, end the stigma of mental health issues and raise awareness on the importance of caring for your mind and body.

“From the media perspective, I ask that the media practice responsible reporting. Raise awareness and provide information on where people can seek help if they’re facing mental health difficulties.

“Every person plays a role in suicide prevention. It is a long-term effort to tackle this issue but it is a good start.

“It needs to start from home, where parents need to educate their children. Family members, schools, teachers, mental health professionals, clergy, community and government,” she explained.

On the recent case of which a teenage girl took her own life after receiving votes that would signify her death, Kelly responded that the tragedy had sent a shockwave to the community.

“Death by suicide is sudden and it leaves the community feeling vulnerable and confused as people try to find answers to explain why a person would choose to end his/her life.

“I’m saddened to hear about the tragedy and I sympathise with the victim’s loved ones as they are the ones who suffer the greatest from this tragedy,” she added.

Kelly revealed that suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults from the age of 15 to 29 according to the World Health Organisation in 2018.

“It is a great loss when someone chose to die by suicide as they are unable to see a way out of their situation.

“There is no one single factor that contributes to suicide. Life is complicating as it is and there may be many motivating factors for a person to consider ending his/her life prematurely,” she expressed.