Fatimah delivering her keynote address during the programme.

BINTULU: Mental health problems are common but there is hope for sufferers to recover, says Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

She said mental health issues are a concern for all parties as they affect people from all over the world – even public figures and celebrities – and is especially distressing when youths are involved.

“The public thus needs to understand and be equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills on how to respond and deal with mental health issues.

“Our response must be to reach out empathetically to people feeling depressed. To do this, we need to educate ourselves on the signs and know how to respond," she said in her keynote address during the 'Wacana Bestari: Kesihatan Mental' programme at a hotel here yesterday.

Fatimah also expressed her worry when looking at the police statistics on suicide cases in Sarawak.

“The cases increase every year. We have recorded 46 cases in 2018 but increased to 55 cases up until Sept this year.

“The trend is increasing and certainly worrying given the complexity of the issues behind suicidal ideation, plan and attempts," she added.

She revealed that statistics from 2016 to September this year showed a total of 159 men and 34 women had committed suicide in Sarawak, with the highest occurrences in Miri with 73 cases followed by Sibu with 25 cases.

Fatimah said silence and stigma prevented those in need from seeking help, adding that suicide remains the second leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29.

She said the majority of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries, where resources for identification and management are often scarce, adding that these concerning facts highlight an on-going tragedy which can no longer be ignored.

“We need to develop our own state suicide prevention strategy that is multi-sectoral, involving not only the health sector but also sectors such as education, labour, social welfare, agriculture, business, justice, law, defence, politics and the media," she said.

>Sources: Borneo Post Online