Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?

Posted on February 20, 2014

Photo: flickr

SINGAPORE It is a question that has puzzled mental health experts in Asia for some time: Why are so many elderly Asians committing suicide?

The past decade has seen astonishing spikes in the rate of Asians over 65 choosing to end their lives early, particularly in the region's economically successful countries.

And these numbers are expected to rise.

The World Health Organization found higher-than-average suicide rates among the elderly in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore. The irony: Wealth and economic growth over the past quarter-century has given families greater financial resources to take care of their elderly.

“Many countries in Asia, because of the rapid industrialization, have a need for workers … in the past the caregivers [were] often the women, but the women now are all working,” Dr. Kua says. “In the homes, the number of caregivers has dropped. Now, it is an elderly man or wife caring for their spouse who is also frail.”

“In every country it is an embarrassment to be told that the suicide rate is high, because there are measures to contain the level. Suicide is preventable … it’s only that we miss it, we don’t detect it, and that person takes their life,” he says.

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Category(s):Mental Health in Asia, Suicide Prevention

Source material from Sratogian