Photo: Unsplash.com/Nikko Macaspac

Photo: Unsplash.com/Nikko Macaspac

I’d like to highlight some statistics on the numbers of cases of suicide among the youth in Singapore.

There were 30 recorded suicides last year among those aged 10 to 19 – the highest figure in 29 years of documentation by the Samaritans of Singapore. There are signs that the figures for 2021 could be just as high.

There’s obviously a link between the mental health of our youth and suicide. When the mental health of our youth is not good, they will be more susceptible to suicide ideation.

In a charity I’m involved with, we did a survey of more than 1,000 young people. In one of the questions, we put forward this statement: “Taking my life is not an option for failure – I will not take my life because of any problem.” Of the young people who responded, 21% did not agree with this statement. That means that 1 in 5 respondents consider that suicide is an option.

To check the findings, we redid the survey and pumped the sample size up to 8,000 young people in Singapore – and the percentage remained the same.

There are a lot of people seeking help today, because many people are affected, emotionally and mentally.

You can see this in the long queues to see a counsellor in schools. I spoke to a university student recently, and he told me that to make an appointment with a school counsellor, there’s a two-month wait list. There’s also the same long queue in our hospitals, and in private practice.

There was a school where a student committed suicide. We asked the classmates how they felt about the person who had passed on. They shared with us that they felt that she was so brave to dare to take her life.

This saddened us. To the minds of some young people, suicide is being glorified, such that they think that suicide is a good thing.

To compound the situation further, COVID-19 has imposed severe constraints on people globally, leading to isolation and depression. Mental wellness has become an important issue, and it will be even more so going forward.

Do watch out for our youths. With what happened at River Valley, there will certainly be some impact on other school-going students as well. Do look out for them, and for one another.

If you know anyone struggling, you can direct them to:

Hotlines:

  1. SOS 24-hour hotline: 1-800-221-444.
  2. Care Corner Counselling Centre: 6353-1180
  3. Care Corner Parenting Support: 6235-4705
  4. IMH Mental Health Helpline: 6389 2222 (24-hours)

These helplines are to refer those who need immediate attention. But there is another thing that we can and must do for them: We need to pray for them.

HOW SHOULD WE PRAY FOR OUR YOUTHS?

1. PRAY THAT THEY WILL EMBRACE THE WILL OF GOD FOR THEM.

What the Lord laid upon my heart when thinking of all these mental health conditions among the younger generation is that we need to pray for young people – that they will discover their calling.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. (Colossians 1:9)

This is what God told me: People will suffer when they find life meaningless, purposeless. The scheme of the devil is to come to steal, kill, and to destroy them; to make them feel hopeless, to make them feel meaningless.

Instead, they need to discover the will of God in their life, with spiritual wisdom with understanding, because knowing the will of God will help them to be fruitful, rather than struggling with the meaning of life.

They need to discover the destiny they have in Jesus. They need to know that they have a purpose. That there is meaning in life. Not to pursue the agenda of the world, but the agenda of God, the will of God. Oh, that they will not live for the petty things of this world, but that they will arise to answer the call of God for their generation! That they will live life with a sense of destiny and purpose as they embrace His will for their lives!

That’s what will give this next generation hope – yes, hope. We are praying for hope for them.

2. PRAY THAT THEY WILL EXPERIENCE THE HEALING OF GOD.

Of course, in particular, we need to pray for those in River Valley High School traumatised by the incident. Not just in River Valley High School, but in every school and campus, where many are feeling the pain of the incident.

But this incident is just the tip of the iceberg, especially during this period where mental health issues are on the rise. We need to pray that God will heal our youths, body, soul and spirit.

They need emotional healing. We need to pray for God to heal those who are stressed out.

The sources of stress that young people are facing come from three sources: One is themselves, their self-perception, their expectations of themselves. The second is from others – from parents or peers or teachers or tutors. The third source would be external: Events, circumstances, breakups, cyberbullying and so forth.

I want to highlight the stress from parents, which can have a huge impact on the mental health of young people today. There was a study published in 2016 that showed that children with pushy parents – tiger mums and dads – are at much higher risk of developing depression, or anxiety. Many of the children of our younger generation are suffering from this.

So pray for healing, pray for reconciliation. Pray for parents – even yourself – to relearn our parenting styles and not be a pushy parent.

3. PRAY THAT THEY WILL ENJOY THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

We need to pray for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit to usher in the Presence of God into every school in Singapore. We need to pray for a great response to the Presence of God, calling forth faith among believers, resulting in real salvation of our youth.

4. PRAY THAT THEY WILL ENCOUNTER GOD WITH OPEN HEARTS.

We need to pray for a new openness to God. Both for those who never knew Him, but even for those who once believed in Him.

The 2020 Census suggests that many young people who grew up in church are leaving the Christian faith. The church needs to pray that many of those who grew up in church will be open to God again. They need to encounter God afresh.

We need to pray for a new openness of heart to see that God is faithful even in their pain and struggle. We need to pray that youths will come to the knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, as the only true source of hope and salvation.

Salvation – hope not just in eternity, but even in the here and now. Hope knowing that they can find peace in His Presence, that they can find help by His healing, that they can find purpose in His will.

Will you join me in praying these prayer pointers regularly for this next generation? They need help, hope and healing in a confusing world that is full of pain. Most of all – they need to know Jesus for themselves.


Ps Chua first spoke about the above topic at a prayer meeting on July 24, organised by praying parents concerned about the youths of Singapore. The content has been adapted for clarity.

About the author

Pastor Chua Seng Lee

Deputy Senior Pastor Chua Seng Lee (Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church) has spent more than 2 decades working with youth and young working adults. He was the Chairman of National Youth Mentoring Steering Committee for 4 years, and the co-organiser of the inaugural Christian Mental Health Conference in July 2021.