Organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), September 10 marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
In the United States, the entire month of September is dedicated to suicide prevention awareness, to raise awareness about the stigmatised and taboo topic, shift public perception and spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide.
This day in particular aims to represent a global commitment to focusing attention on suicide prevention. This year’s theme is “creating hope through action“, a reminder that preventing suicide is possible — and you can be a key player in its prevention.
In Hong Kong, the suicide rate has increased significantly over the past four decades. It’s crucial to do your part — in schools, in the workplace, in your day-to-day.
Suicidal feelings and the warning signs
Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. Suicidal ideation, or suicidal thoughts, can range from abstract ideas and thoughts about ending your own life or that people would be better off without you to thinking about methods and making clear plans to end your life.
The factors and causes that lead to ideation are complex and many — no single approach works for everyone. People who are suicidal may feel trapped, like a burden to those around them and believe they have no other options.
As the topic of suicide is taboo and heavily stigmatised, it is important to signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them. Just a few warning signs of suicidal feelings include: increased alcohol and drug use; impulsive, reckless, aggressive and out-of-character behaviour; and withdrawal from friends and family.
Suicidal behaviour is a psychiatric emergency. Seek immediate help if you or a loved one starts to: collect and save pills or a weapon; giving away possessions and tying up loose ends (debts, payments); and saying goodbye to friends and family.
Where to get immediate help in Hong Kong
If you can’t talk to someone you know, call:
- The Samaritans Hong Kong‘s 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention hotline (+852 2896 0000)
- Suicide Prevention Services‘ 24-hour hotline (+852 2382 0000)
- The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong‘s 24-hour Chinese hotline (+852 2389 2222)
- Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care (+852 2868 1211)
You can also use Chat Point, The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong’s online counselling chat room. While not Hong Kong-based, IMAlive.org is a great international “virtual crisis centre” — it’s free, confidential and secure.
Getting involved with mental health organisations and community
Suicide prevention is more than proposing a talk and posting a hotline — if you can, reach in! You don’t have to tell them what to do or have solutions, just make the time and space to listen to someone’s distress and suicidal thoughts. A major obstacle for those in distress in seeking help is stigma. Small talk can save lives — creating connection and hope.
Volunteering for The Samaritans’ suicide prevention hotline
The Samaritans is a non-profit organisation that gives confidential emotional support to those experiencing distress. The service is for everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. The 24-hour multilingual hotline is operated by unpaid, trained volunteers. You can learn more about volunteering with The Samaritans here.
Getting involved with the Suicide Crisis Intervention Centre
Established in 2002, the Suicide Crisis Intervention Centre provides 24-hour crisis intervention and emergency emotional support services to those in distress. You can learn more about getting involved with its focus group and training with them here.
Mental health organisation in Hong Kong
This explanatory and comprehensive list of mental health services by Hong Kong Free Press is a great starting point. We also like Mind Hong Kong — a charity dedicated to mental health in Hong Kong that keeps a running directory of community services, provides online resources, collaborates with NGOs (like KELY Support Group) and hosts events and training sessions. Another great initiative is RainLily, that’s dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault with free immediate crisis support and counselling, among other health services (2375 5322; rainlily.org.hk/eng/safechat)
You can see Mind HK’s entire community directory here and its list of mental health service providers in Hong Kong here.
This article is only intended to serve as a starting point for getting (licensed, professional, medical) help.