A report highlighting the increased numbers of reported suicides by pre-teens / teens aged 10-19  was recently posted in the Straits Time on August 14 2016. Here are the main points from the report.

Teens often struggle with the transition from childhood to adulthood, resulting in varying degrees of emotional turmoil or depression. They may endure feelings of worthlessness, alienation, loneliness, or helplessness. Without effective treatment, such feelings can deepen and intensify, leading the sufferer to self-harm, perhaps with the intent to commit suicide. One at-risk group is the age bracket of preteens and teenagers, specifically within the age range of 10 to 19.

The Importance of Family Support

A top psychiatrist in Singapore suggests that the family plays an integral role in preventing depression from taking hold of a young person’s life. He claims that “a warm, nurturing and cohesive family is critical as it allows the child to feel loved, safe and secure, as well as feel a sense of self-worth and self-competence”.

In addition, families need to be willing to let their children or teens make mistakes, giving them the opportunity to rise to challenges and conquer obstacles on their own. While the families should provide support, they also need to step back occasionally and let children benefit from the feeling of confidence that comes from solving a problem on their own. That boost of self-confidence and responsibility can go a long way towards eradicating feelings of depression.

The Effects of Social Media

Some professionals who work closely with youths in Singapore have another theory. They place the blame for teen depression partly on the increase in online social interaction. When young people are talking to each other via digital means, they miss out on the benefits of facial expressions, voice tones, and body language, all of which help human beings obtain deeper meaning from words. The lack of these visual and auditory cues can result in misinterpretation of meaning. It’s harder for someone to indicate how intensely they are feeling or how much they need help when they are simply communicating by text or email. On the flip side, it’s difficult for a sender to gauge how their seemingly innocent words might be taken wrongly or misinterpreted by someone suffering from depression in Singapore.

The Gender Difference

The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) released some interesting data about teen mental health in Singapore. Their hotline records show that in one year, 1973 girls called the SOS hotline to ask for help or to express suicidal thoughts. Only 508 boys within the same age group called the hotline; yet 16 boys committed suicide that year compared to just 11 girls.

It’s apparent from this and other studies that the suicide risk for teen boys is higher than it is for girls. It appears that girls are more likely to discuss their feelings with others and seek help, whereas teen boys may keep their negative emotions inside rather than finding a healthy outlet or asking for help. It is vital for any professionals who deal with children and teens to be aware of this difference and look more carefully for signs of depression in young males.

We Can Help

At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, we welcome young people who are struggling with problems at home or at school, wrestling with puberty and other developmental changes, or sinking into feelings of despair or loneliness. Our team of highly qualified psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists specialize in providing professional help and support to children, teens, and adults who need to overcome depression before it places their lives in danger.

Contact us today to schedule a private consultation so that you or a loved one can get back on the path to a positive state of mental health.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: The Straits Times, August 14 2016.