Number Of Suicides Continues To Be Highest Among Those In Their 20s: SOS

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

SINGAPORE — The number of deaths by suicide in Singapore continues to be the highest among those aged between 20 and 29, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said on Monday (Aug 3) as it announced that it will bring forward the launch of a new text-based service for those in need of help.

SOS said in its annual report, which uses data retrieved from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s Report on Registration of Births and Deaths, that 400 people took their lives last year.

This is slightly higher than the 397 who committed suicide the year before.

Overall, the suicide rate dropped slightly to eight deaths per 100,000 Singapore residents, from 8.36 in 2018.

Among the 400 suicides last year, 71 were committed by people aged between 20 and 29, and suicide accounted for one-third of all reported deaths in this age group.

In response to TODAY’s queries, SOS said the number of suicides across all age groups, except for those in their 20s and 50s, increased last year. 

The number of suicides among people aged 70 and above showed the biggest increase, from 58 in 2018 to 64 in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of suicides among people between the ages of 50 and 59 decreased the most, from 70 in 2018 to 62 in 2019. 

SOS also found that suicide continues to be the leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 29, although the number of suicide cases recorded among this age group last year remains stagnant at 94. 


SOS said that among those who reveal their age, people in their 20s make up about 17 per cent of calls to its 24-hour hotline. 

The number of calls received from those in this age group increased to 4,124, up from 3,396 in its previous fiscal year ending March 2019.

This group also accounts for 37 per cent of those who used its Email Befriending service — an online platform that offers emotional support.

SOS noted that these individuals often point to romantic relationships, difficulties coping with mental health and struggles managing challenging situations as contributing factors that led to their distress.

Mr Gasper Tan, the chief executive of SOS, said that while the rise in calls among youths was encouraging, the high number of suicides in this age group was concerning.

He added: “Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help.”

In a recent survey to understand people’s perception towards suicide, SOS found that one in three people in their 20s would not consider contacting others for help when emotionally overwhelmed.

“Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group,” it said, adding that the fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with a sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were key reasons found in the survey.

A total of 2,497 respondents participated in the survey, of which 580 were aged 20 to 29.


Recognising that some individuals in distress may hesitate to speak on the phone, SOS said it has brought forward the launch of its text-based service.

Called the SOS Care Text, the service can be accessed via the SOS website.

Noting the increase in the number of calls and emails during the circuit-breaker, Mr Tan said it was crucial that SOS is able to “readily provide an alternative form of emotional support”.

Respondents to the SOS survey had also indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help.

Said Mr Tan: “In this time when we are physically distanced from one another to stay safe, feelings of loneliness and helplessness may be amplified. It is important for us to show our care and concern for our loved ones by checking in on them periodically.

“While the journey forward may be tough, this action helps to show that we are willing to walk with them to make this journey a little less intimidating.”


Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)

Singapore Association of Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

Emergency Helpline (Institute of Mental Health): 6389 2222 (24 hours)

Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (10am-10pm)

Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)


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