An example of a suicide prevention line service from the U.K. It’s time we have it in Brunei too. It’s morally right and justified that the government should set it up immediately.

 

The nine suicide cases that have occurred this year so far have disturbed the public. In February this year, three people ended their lives within a span of a week. In the month of July, a 39-year-old female teacher, a local Chinese woman, a 34-year-old man, and an Indian man took their lives. All these cases have caused untold pain and anguish to their family members, friends and community.

There is also an increased rate of attempted suicide cases. In 2016, a public relations officer from the Fire and Rescue department noted that they have been receiving an average two to three calls (per month) of attempted suicide cases. A decade ago, there were hardly any reports on this issue, he continued.

In light of these facts, it is time for Brunei to have a National Suicide Prevention Line.

When problems such as these arise, various remedies need to be considered and implemented so they can be appropriately dealt with. Across the talks in the towns, there have been calls on the need for the Ministry of Health to introduce a national suicide prevention hotline. An informal poll conducted by one of our youth YBs on June 10th 2018 got an overwhelming response of 99% “yes” from 67 votes on the motion as to whether we should have a national suicide prevention line or not.

The national suicide prevention hotline should be considered so that those contemplating suicide can have immediate access to professionals whom they can trust to solve their immediate problems, or, at the very least, someone whom they can safely share their problems with. The only recourses that these patients now have are the 123 line or the ambulance number. These are not enough. A specialised suicide prevention hotline has to be established in order that their specific problems can merit specific solutions by specific professionals in the field.

There are public and private clinics that do provide therapy or psychological services to these types of problems. However, due to the stigma attached to mental health, many of those who are vulnerable may not be willing to go let alone consider these types of services out of the fear that they may be judged or branded as “mental” in society or their own community. The fear of being shamed by a family member or their extended families should their “stories get leaked out” may also make them reluctant to solicit professional help.

These are real fears and concerns that might have impeded the patients’ ability to secure professional help directly. Compounding these factors are the problems that made them contemplate suicide in the first place. These factors could include financial problems, depression, family breakdown, bullying, relationship problems or drug abuse that made, in a way, suicide the “inevitable” or option to take. This has to change once and for all.

By having a national suicide prevention hotline where anonymity and assurance of the patient are prioritised will in a way reduce these aforementioned concerns and fears. They will then be more willing to open themselves up to the problems and seek solutions eventually with the help of this line. That means they will go beyond the phone and eventually sit down with a real professional to secure the necessary help for their existing predicament, thus decreasing the chances of them committing suicide.

Setting up the suicide prevention hotline can also generate jobs for our graduates. There are plenty of young people whose expertise are not being utilised as we speak. Many of whom, rather than capitalise on their skills and education, are left to do work in fields not related to their expertise at all. Having these graduates, mentored and trained by real professionals, will go a long way to produce a self-sufficient national workforce that can allay the problems of mental health nationally.

Funding must be injected on the creation of this line.

Public-Private Partnerships can be extended to the private or public sectors to realise this idea. UBD’s IHS, JPMC, Clarity SDN BHD, and the Brunei Psychological Society can be approached for this purpose. Their research and insights on suicidal behaviour in Brunei can give a clear picture of the problems faced in the country, and, therefore, will help enhance policy-making and national budget allocation towards alleviating the issue of suicide as well as general mental health problems, e.g. depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), ADHD,  trauma, PTSD, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder.

Above all, suicide is a huge problem that affects society. There is a saying that the pain of suicide does not stop with the victim. It transfers it to others. It is a terrible problem that has to be dealt with.

The establishment of the national suicide prevention hotline by the government is do-able. It is also morally right and justified for the country to set it up. Who knows there may be dozens of people across the nation contemplating suicide right now who is in desperate need of this line.

Finally, there is a saying. To save a person’s life is to save the whole of humanity. Having a suicide prevention hotline that could save one life in Brunei will justify all the cost or hard work that is required to set up it up. I hope the government realise the idea of a National Prevention Suicide Line as soon as possible.