Assess those who are suicide risks; value life experiences

A report in The Straits Times on March 15, 2016 – “Man accused of raping minor attempts suicide” touched on how a 45-year-old married man who had been accused of raping and preying on a minor repeatedly, lead him to attempt suicide.

Generally those who find it hard to face challenges and find that there is no way out will take the suicide route as they could be guilt ridden. The teary eyed wife of the accused needs support to cope with her husband’s alleged crime and infidelity.

I have observed that the number of sex crimes, including those convicted of upskirt videos and molest cases are on the rise and those found guilty have been punished with some losing their jobs and the risk of family break ups.

With the increase in sex crimes, there is bound to be a corresponding increase in the number of cases the police and courts have to take on. While it is necessary to punished those for sex crimes, we must recognise that those convicted could be having underlying mental health issues that require counselling and rehabilitation so that they will not revert to such offences.

What is just as important is to make sure that anyone accused of sex offences are monitored closely and given an assessment of being at risk of suicide.

Next, there must be on-going publication education on mental health issues to reach out to all sectors of the population, including schools and tertiary institutions, and the Residents Committees (RCs). We should not shy away on discussing these delicate issues, and to value those who have real life experiences.

When I gave a talk on schizophrenia and depression to some 300 secondary students at a Catholic School several years ago, the enlightened teacher told me later that they have identified those who are suicide risks.

A counsellor who is well trained will immediately link up those who are at suicide risks to the RCs for follow up action.

I still remember what the surgeon at the National University Hospital advised me after he saved me from a suicide attempt in 1995 when I could not cope with having to take care of my wife who struggled with schizophrenia for decades and trying to balance my stressful days in my job: “Mr Fernando, don’t do this again, because there is always a way out.”

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

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Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.