The headlines on elderly suicide should make us pause and reflect on why it is happening in affluent Singapore.
Why are more elderly committing suicide than ever before, with last year reaching a record high?
The media reports suggest that with the steady increase in the elderly population, more elderly suicides can be expected in the years to come.
Isn’t this such a sad scenario? Why are so many elderly losing hope and resorting to taking their own lives?
If you speak with social workers (which I have over the years) the elderly most susceptible to suicide are the ones who are sick and either alone or do not wish to be a burden on their dependents.
It is a reflection on our society that so many elderly become depressed when they find themselves a burden to family and society.
As a friend remarked the other day: “In the past, one breadwinner can support a whole family; today, even five children cannot support one aged parent, especially one who is sick and in need of healthcare.”
How did we come to such a sad and sorry situation?
More crucially, how can we be considered a truly inclusive society if the elderly are falling by the wayside and falling into depression when they should be enjoying their golden years?
Today we have about 80,000 elderly aged 80 and above. By 2030, the number of such elderly is expected to surpass 180,000.
Must we then be resigned to the fact that the elderly suicide rate will keep rising?
Singapore is supposed to have the world’s third highest per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
What good is that figure if as a society, we cannot even look after and care for our elderly when they most need our help and support?