A recent rash of young suicides has shocked residents and drawn attention to the need for better mental health care in Singapore, particularly for children and teens. However, the problem isn’t limited to Singapore alone. According to an article published by Vogue, American youth are also plagued by higher rates of suicide attempts and anxiety disorders, among other mental illnesses.

Swimming to Death

One psychiatrist, Rob Haskell, tells of a fifteen-year-old who tried swimming to his death in the ocean. He swam further and further, hoping to tire himself out and drown. Fortunately, he was rescued and became Haskell’s patient. Haskell discovered that the boy had a myriad of worries— his body, the embarrassing poverty in which he lived with his brother and his immigrant parents, the pressures at school, and his fear of social expectations and norms. The teen was intelligent and handsome, yet he couldn’t see it. His shyness and anxiety drove him to attempt suicide in the vast ocean.

Common Ground

Dr. Haskell’s young patient faced many issues that are common to teens in Singapore and around the world. Teenagers develop anxiety over school grades, friends or the lack of friends, social expectations, family demands, and body image issues. According to Dr. Haskell, an estimated 20% of children and teens experience panic, anxiety, phobias, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Anxiety in Children

Children naturally suffer from some level of anxiety when trying something new or confusing; but in many cases, they will overcome that anxiety in order to please a parent, to show off, or to prove themselves. However, some children simply cannot overcome their fears. They are constantly filled with worry about potential risks and dangers in the future. They fear being separated from their parents, and they are overwhelmed by the thought of failure.

Rather than being protected from stress, these children need help to work through those feelings. Life is full of anxiety-inducing moments; it’s impossible to protect kids from it all. If they don’t learn to cope with anxiety at an early age, they become desperate, panic-stricken teens like the fifteen-year-old boy who tried to drown himself.

The Danger of Untreated Anxiety

Anxiety can rapidly become worse, triggering even more serious problems like drug addiction, depression, suicide attempts, self-harm, and failure in school. “Anxiety remains among the most easily missed illnesses in all of pediatric medicine,” says Dr. Haskell. In fact, some experts estimate that “four out of five children with anxiety will never be treated for it.”

Don’t let your child be one of those silent sufferers. If you have a child or adolescent who is struggling with fear, anxiety, and other emotional issues, bring that young person to Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. Among our team of highly trained Singapore psychiatrists, we have counsellors that deal specifically with children’s mental health. We emphasise complete confidentiality, a caring environment, and treatment methods that promote emotional growth and healing so that patients can function normally again and enjoy their lives.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Vogue, November 1, 2016