Take immediate steps to reduce tragedies and mental health issues

Contributed by Raymond Anthony Fernando – 

Mental health issues are real


I was deeply saddened to read of how a naked man, after having a heated argument, turned violent and then hit his mother after which he threatened to jump down as reported in “He locked himself in room after allegedly hitting his mum”( The New Paper, Jan 30, 2015).

Reading the report, it is abundantly clear to me that the man has some mental health issues which require on-going treatment, because no one in his right state of mind will go about naked, shout at the top of his voice and display bizarre behaviour that makes neighbours keep their distance. Suicidal tendencies are also a sign that the man has a troubled mind, and every effort must be made to reach out to such people.

It was also reported that the 26-year-old man who was later arrested for voluntary causing hurt with dangerous means, has no friends. This is often the cause with persons struggling with mental health issues. During my sharing session with caregivers of the mentally ill at a Family Link Programme organised by the Singapore Association for Mental Health last year, one mother shared how her son who is coping with mental illness has no friends and feels very isolated and unwanted.

In another tragedy, a couple living in Jurong died after the husband slashed his wife, then went out to stab himself to death a press report, “Loving you was my biggest mistake” (The New Paper, Jan 31).

Such growing tragedies and relationship and mental illness problems must be addressed – quickly.

I personally know of one kind-hearted grassroots leader at Jalan Kayu in Mohamed Nassim who goes out of way to make home visits to those in his constituency to find out if any family has mental issues that requires support. Now – if only all our grassroots leaders across Singapore could emulate the compassion shown by this grassroots leader, then residents in the heartlands will be able to in peace and harmony, and stigmatisation of the mentally ill will slowly fade away.

In some well developed countries, people who are suicidal are housed in flats lower to ground level so that suicides can be significantly reduced. The HDB should adopt this practice in consultation with family caregivers. And the Ministry of Social and Family Development should step forward and help this family. Let us not turn a blind eye to those who need crucial support.