CSRP Newsletter (Issue 2018 Sept)

Message from the Director 總監的話 “To those who have lost their lives in suicide, to those who struggle with thoughts of suicide, to those who have made an attempt on their lives, to those caring for someone who struggles, to those left behind after a death by suicide, to those in recovery, and to all those who work tirelessly to prevent suicide and suicide attempts in our nation. We believe that we can andwe will make a difference.” – Dedication of the US 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. According to the latest World Health Suicide Report, there are about 800,000 deaths by suicide worldwide every year; more than 60 per cent of these are in Asia. Reducing the suicide rate has been included as one of the 17 sustainable development goals proposed by the United Nations. The increase in suicide among young people has become an emerging problem both in Hong Kong and globally. Adolescence is a critical and sensitive stage of development as teenagers adapt tochanges in life, learning environment, friends and for some, parental separation. Some are more susceptible to being influenced by their external environment, and are less emotionally stable, which may lead them to behave impulsively. The Centre is working with the other stakeholders including YouTubers in Social media to engage those in need. In the past, youth in the school system had a lower suicide rate than those who are working or unemployed for the same age cohort. However, the gap is disappearing and there is not much difference in the suicide rate among young people, regardless of whether they are in the school system or not. In addition to the various difficulties teenagers face, students’ feeling of anxiousness and uncertainty about examinations and the future have become more intense. Parents regard academic achievement as the most important indicator of a child’s success, regardless of the child’s disinterest in, or struggles with, their schoolwork. Sometimes, it is the mindset of both students and parents that limit children’s pursuit of their own interests. In addition, the exam-oriented learning environment is not aligned with the goal of cultivating and promoting students’ mental wellness. The school system needs a systemic change as well as an increase in individual support to promote the mental well-being of our youth and to cater to children with different talents and interests. If our young people can’t see any hope or find practical means to change their current situation, they will be prone to depression and anxiety. Despite the acclaimed better learning environment in Finland, Australia and the US, the suicide rates among young people in those countries are higher than that of Hong Kong, especially among males. They also show a higher prevalence of activities that place themat increased risk, such as drug and alcohol abuse. This indicates that a better academic environment alone does not result in a lower student suicide rate. Nevertheless, creating more space in the school curriculumwould benefit students and teachers as well. I truly believe teach less and learn more. Also, it is unfortunate that most suicide prevention programmes in Hong Kong and the other nearby regions focus on clinical intervention. And, yet, there is an acute shortage of clinical resources to treat depression and mental illness. Thus, an integrated approach is very much needed for effective effort. ISSUE 2018 September | CSRP Newsletter 2