Last year (2014), 126 seniors aged 60 and above committed suicide - an increase of almost 60 per cent from 79 cases in 2000.

A Duke-NUS study led by Associate Professor Angelique Chan found that feeling lonely raised one's risk of dying by 34 per cent over a four-year period, compared with those who were not lonely.

Ms Christine Wong, executive director of suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore, confirmed that loneliness is a factor: "The majority of the elderly clients who called our 24-hour hotline expressed concerns such as physical and mental ill health, financial and relationship issues, and loneliness."

Prof Chan's study, release last year, also revealed that about 32 per cent of Singaporeans aged 60 and older report that they are sometimes lonely, and 19 per cent report that they feel mostly lonely.

Prof Chan said, "As loneliness is a more powerful predictor of mortality compared with living arrangements, programmes that focus solely on older adults living alone may miss a large group of lonely older adults living with children."

The number of people aged 65 and above who live by themselves has nearly tripled from 14,500 in 2000 to 42,100 last year. The elderly make up about a third of all one- person households in Singapore.