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Surge in suicides sparks alarm in Macau

Major causes of the suicides are chronic or physiological illness, gambling and financial problems, says health department
Mental illness is cited as a major reason behind a surge in suicides in Macau.

Mental illness is cited as a major reason behind a surge in suicides in Macau. (Photo: Macau News Agency)

Published: February 01, 2024 12:09 PM GMT
Updated: February 01, 2024 12:14 PM GMT

Macau has recorded the highest number of suicides in a decade, prompting the authorities to urge residents to help those around them while assuring assistance from government mechanisms, says a report.

The China-ruled territory recorded 88 suicide cases in 2023, a 46.6 percent increase compared to 60 cases in 2021. In 2013, the territory had reported 68 deaths due to suicide.

The details of the increase in suicides were revealed in a Jan. 30 press release from the Macau Health Services, Portuguese daily Ponto Final reported on Jan. 31.

The health department urged the residents to assume an active role as a “suicide prevention advocate.”

“To reduce the incidence of suicide, residents should contact, communicate, and care more about the people around them,” the department said.

The residents were also advised to know about their neighbors’ “daily lives and encourage those who are experiencing emotional problems to actively seek professional help.”

The health department in its report revealed that the last quarter of 2023 recorded 26 suicides which was the highest number recorded compared to the same period in the previous years.

In 2019, 66 cases of suicide were reported.

The health department reported that the major causes of the suicides were chronic or physiological illness, and gambling or financial problems.

“The causes of suicide are complex and often involve mental illness, psychological, socio-economic, family, human relations and biological genetic factors,” the report said.

The health department reiterated its stand that it aims to increase the accessibility of mental health-related services and extend its social support network to effectively arrest the gradually increasing suicide numbers.

It said that it aims to mobilize the “whole of society, through families, schools and the community, to pay joint attention and forward information on their own initiative.”

Such support from society can help the competent services to “intervene quickly and eliminate potential risks,” the health department said.

The department also pointed out that it was giving financial and technical support to distressed citizens through various institutions including the General Union of Macau Residents' Associations and the Macau General Women's Association.

Community psychological counseling institutions are being set up with the help of various organizations to support people with mental problems, it said.

The health department added that it is committed to “promoting and deepening the training of [mental health] advocates to prevent suicide in the community,” and increasing public awareness of suicidal attitudes.

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