The book, titled Bend Not Break – Learning From Loss also discusses teen psychological development and how to nurture resilience.
Even though three years have
passed since 17-year-old “Jay”
hanged himself in his bedroom, his
loved ones are still struggling to
cope with the loss.
His best friend Ryan Lim, now
21, a student, lapsed into depression
after the suicide. He would get
panic attacks whenever a friend
parted ways with him as it reminded
him of the last time Jay said
goodbye before going home.
Mr Lim later started cutting himself
and had suicidal thoughts.
As for Jay’s parents and brother,
they tried to cope by moving to
HongKong to “start life afresh”.
“One thing suicide victims may
not realise is that they are not the
only ones who die,” said Jay’s brother.
“We die a little inside every
Brahm Centre, a charity that
champions mental resilience, will
be launching a book tonight that
captures personal accounts of Jay’s
best friend and brother on the
events that led up to his suicide
and its impact on them.
The book, titled Bend Not Break
–Learning From Loss, also discusses
the phases of psychological development
in adolescence and
how parents can nurture emotional
resilience in their children.
“The book is a valuable addition
as we seldom have the opportunity
to listen to the voice of suffering
first-hand under such circumstances,”
wrote the late former president
SR Nathan in its foreword.
“I believe it will be an easy and
yet valuable read for all parents, siblings
and teachers,” said Mr Nathan,
who was supposed to launch
the book, but died last month.
Senior Minister of State for
Health, and the Environment and
Water Resources Amy Khor will be
gracing the launch instead.
Teen suicide has come under
the spotlight after the number hit
a 15-year high last year with 27 cases.
This was double that in 2014,
despite a drop in the overall
number of suicides.
Of concern, too, are the “suicide
survivors” – who can be anyone affected
by a suicide death, including
the family, friends, neighbours,
colleagues, classmates or healthcare
From 2013 to last year, Samaritans
of Singapore (SOS) has seen a
rising number of clients who come
in for suicide grief counselling.
More than half of them have suicidal
thoughts due to their loss.
SOS has a programme and support
group for these survivors.
About 300 to 400 Singaporeans
kill themselves annually. With SOS’
conservative estimate of six people
affected by every suicide death, this
means thousands of people grappling with such
losses each year.
“Bereavement following suicide
is usually different from bereavement
following death by natural
causes, both in kind and intensity,
and there is much greater trauma,”
said SOS executive director Christine Wong.
Many suicide survivors face a
heightened risk of suicide themselves
because they experience intense
feelings of guilt, abandonment,
shame and anger, on top of
the usual sadness and loneliness.
In Mr Lim’s case, he has since
come to terms with his friend’s
death with the help of a therapist
The book’s author, Dr Peter
Mack, a senior consultant at Singapore General Hospital, said what
can be done to help someone struggling
with suicidal thoughts is simply
to listen with compassion.
He recounted how he had just
met a woman who was planning to
end her life a fortnight ago. She
happened to read about the book
launch and contacted him.
“All I did was to listen with the
sole intent to understand her – not
to evaluate, judge or advise her on
what to do,” he said. “Your best gift
to someone who is struggling is
your time and reassurance: Be a
compassionate listener and don’t
Samaritans of Singapore:
Singapore Association for
Institute of Mental Health’s
Mobile Crisis Service:
Care Corner Counselling
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
Tinkle Friend (for primary