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This Year in Suicide Prevention – e-Newsletter (Jan 2016)

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Happy 2016 friends and colleagues.

DSC04381_lrmTime flies, and it is 2016 already. Recently, we have been making plans to strengthen engagement with our stakeholders in the community. We have recreated our website to offer a more modern appearance, and easier and quicker access to information and resources. We are also excited to introduce quarterly e-newsletters as a channel to maintain regular and efficient communication with our friends and partners in the community.

Please read the newsletter and subscribe to stay updated with activities from the Centre and the broader field of suicide prevention.

Paul Yip, Director of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention

For the first e-newsletter, please click here

Media’s Commitment in Suicide Prevention remains Strong!

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There have been devastating suicide news we regretted to learn just shortly after we set foot in 2016. May we first take this opportunity to send our deepest condolence to the family of the deceased and be reminded there are community resources for those who’re in need. On the other side though, it is gratifying to see the media have changed from extensive reporting of suicide cases in the past to a simpler and more objective manner nowadays. The vast majority of these articles also contain professional advices and helplines resources. These not only reflect the changes in media professionals, it also shows the society as a whole is taking steps toward a more loving, caring, and empathetic community. All these require hard work from different stakeholders within the community, and they require even more hard work to maintain this achievement.

Comparing with Western countries, suicide news in Hong Kong are reported much more frequently. We have constantly urged local media to report suicide news responsibly, but by no means, we attempted to forbid the report of any suicide news. We are truly aware that just like any news, ones that involve with public interest should be reported by the media. We have also encouraged local media to investigate and discuss thoroughly about the impact of society in suicide incidents, subsequently raise the public awareness in suicide prevention. Nevertheless, most suicide news reported weren’t a matter of public interest, rather it became a mean to further harm the deceased and their family. It also encouraged stigmatisation towards a particular group of people (e.g. psychiatric patients) or places (e.g. estate being named as the “estate of death”). There are more and more research pointing out that suicide news may lead to copycat acts on those who are vulnerable, creating a devastating vicious cycle within the society.

Our centre introduced the WHO Suicide Media Guideline to Hong Kong media professionals in 2004. Sadly, the introduction of the media guideline was not as effective as we thought it would be. Through engagement with several media professionals, we see media professionals uphold a sense of commitment in improving the society through the media. However, due to the lack of knowledge on how news report can be a potential risk factor for suicide and the urge to chase after more “exciting” news, they sometimes negated the fact that these suicide news articles can be damaging to vulnerable individuals.

In order to tackle this problem, we started to change our strategy in approaching media professionals and work hand-in-hand with local media. Under the support from the University’s Knowledge Exchange Fund, we are able to monitor suicide news articles in a daily basis. We will contact the editors and request for amendments if we discover a problematic article that might cause harm to any individuals or public. Having said that, we emphasise that we respect and treasure the freedom of press, with no intention whatsoever to influence the independence of any media professionals. We, however, hopes to recommend and discuss on such matter solely base on humanitarian and social responsibility perspective. This healthy engagement have not only created a platform for constructive communication between media and us, the media have also responded to our concerns very positively. An even more heartening news is that some media professionals are willing to take the initiative to learn more about the latest research findings and movement on suicide preventions and actively promote suicide preventions to the public, not waiting for another tragic to strike.

All in all, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the all media professionals and local media for their contribution in the works of suicide prevention. Through this precious chance, we hope to reiterate the three basic principles of reporting suicide news. Firstly, avoid reporting suicide news if it does not involve the public interest. Secondly, please take consideration of the mental status of high risk group when reporting suicide. Lastly, media professionals should practice self-care and pluck up their courage to seek help when needed. The media is our most precious gateway of information. We are grateful for your professionalism in delivering news to the society. A call to all medial professional: keep your empathy, and more importantly uphold your commitment in improving the society. We are confident that the media will continue to serve great contribution in suicide prevention!

This article in chinese with heading 不忘初心 傳媒可為預防自殺做出積極貢獻 was published by MingPao@A29 on 20 Jan 2016. Read by following this link.

Press Conference – From Compensation to Rehabilitation
不止賠償 更要「重返工作」

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From Compensation to Rehabilitation

A Social Review of the Employees’ Compensation Insurance System in Hong Kong
Research Findings Release

In Hong Kong, about 200 fatal and 55,000 to 60,000 non-fatal cases resulting from work-related accidents and diseases have been recorded each year. Occupational rehabilitation with an emphasis on early and comprehensive intervention immediately after injuries has demonstrated to be the international best practice in disability management post occupational injuries. The practice, however, has not beenProfessor Paul Yip listened attentively during the Q&A session widely adopted in Hong Kong. To have an understanding of the underlying reasons, the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP), Department of Social Work and Social Administration of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), has conducted a consultancy project jointly with the Employees’ Compensation Insurance Residual Scheme Bureau (ECIRSB) to review the Employees’ Compensation system for local workers.

The CSRP held a press conference on 14 Dec 2015 to release its latest research findings and recommendations from the project on restoring the well-being of injured workers. Press release is available in both English and Chinese. The Powerpoint presentation is available in Chinese.

At the press conference, Professor Paul Yip presented the latest statistics on work-related deaths and injuries in Hong Kong, and on compensation insurance claims, such as the demographic characteristics of the workers who filed insurance claims, the types of common injuries, and number of working days lost from injury. He also spoke about the major problems in the current system, namely a compensation-focused culture and the physical and psychological barriers that hinder the success of return-to-work for injured workers, such as stress from family and employers, and the loss of self-esteem. Recognizing the challenges encountered by injured workers on the road of recovery, professor Yip stressed the importance of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies and called for a collaborative effort of building a worker-centered system.

DSC00037Doctor Sheung Wai Law, an honorary clinical associate professor from the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), shared a success story of implementing a multidisciplinary rehabilitation model with the focus on early intervention – the  Multidisciplinary Orthopedics Rehabilitation Empowerment (MORE) Programme. This programme has demonstrated great success in facilitating early and safe return-to-work for injured workers. With the positive impacts brought by the MORE programme, the project hopes to initiate efforts of expanding the programme, so more injured workers can gain access.

Last but not least, the CSRP would like to express gratitude to all the stakeholders who contributed to the project and those who provided utmost support for the project’s effort in propelling meaningful changes for workers health and social well-being of Hong Kong.

World Mental Health Day 2015

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全人健康:尊重與關愛 / Holistic Health: Respect and Care

撰稿:鄭雅心 / By Mabel Cheng

本年度世界精神健康日(World Mental Health Day)的主題為精神健康與尊嚴。對於健康,社會向來很重視。坊間處處都能找到預防生理疾病及養生的資訊,唯獨是忽視了成就全人健康的另一重要元素:精神及心理健康。情緒病在東方文化中可算是個大眾忌諱的話題。每提起情緒病,總會有人覺得不安、避而不談、或對患者有先入為主的負面評價,而造成歧視等問題。這是因為大多數人對於情緒病都有所誤解,認為患上情緒病的人必定是「壞人」、「心理變態」、或是「極度負面」、「失去理智」的人。無可否認這些負面的標籤在不知不覺間剝削了精神病人應得到的公平對待。本年度的主題–尊嚴,所指的正正就是當事人自身的價值和被尊重的權利。

心理疾病,其實就是心靈上的一場傷風感冒,每個人亦有機會患上。與其他的身體疾病一樣,患病並不是個人選擇,所以也不應影響當事人的價值。生病也許代表其免疫系統暫時戰敗,需要休養及被照顧。而「生病」,從來都不是人自身的「錯」。較早前的一套本地電影《暴瘋語》帶出了一些好例子。故事講述范國生劉青雲飾)因為痛失愛子,情緒過度低落而患上精神分裂,於病發時錯手殺害妻子而被判入精神病院作長期治療。數年後,其主診醫生周明傑(黃曉明飾)認為國生已康復並決定讓他重新投身社會。然而,重獲自由的國生因為其患病紀錄及經歷而受盡種種歧視,使他再度感到情緒低落,臨近崩潰。同時,在他的住所附近發生了一宗命案,國生一度被認定是殺人兇手。無論國生怎樣努力為自己辯護也是徒勞無功。最後,他選擇了為自己沒有犯的過錯而認罪。對他來說,被社會歧視的痛苦程度與坐冤獄的分別實在不大。在被診斷為精神病患者的瞬間,彷彿已被社會判決「終生監禁」。精神病這個標籤無情地奪去了他的自由、人權、及被尊重的權利。

試想想,癌症病人從治療中復原過來,總會得到很多祝福和鼓勵。相反,精神病康復者不但未必得到所需的支持,反而還須承受歧視的眼光和不公平的對待。要解決歧視問題,首先我們先要明白精神病及情緒病並不是可恥之事。能引發精神病的因素很多,包括生理、心理、環境、生活壓力、支援網絡等等。其實每個人都潛在著「生病」的機會,當人生出現突如其來的轉變,例如失業、意外、喪親等的事情,而又未能適當地處理自己的情緒,患上精神或情緒病的機會便大大提高。電影中有三個角色患有精神病,包括主角范國生國生的岳母(鮑起靜飾),及國生的精神科主診醫生周明傑。故事中三個角色均來自不同的社會階級及教育背景。唯一相同的,就是每個角色都各自面對著某些悲痛的經歷,例如失去至親。大部分的精神病患者所背負著的,不單是社會的歧視目光,可能還有造成病發的一些慘痛經歷。在批判、歧視、指責、取笑之前,何不先理解對方的苦處,或至少給予一份基本的尊重?

精神病患及康復者所需要的,不單是一個重新開始的機會,還有一份關愛及同理心-理解他們所面對的傷痛、病患中的苦難、及重生後的掙扎。電影中引用了一句葛萊斯科皇室精神病院患者的絮語:「精神病就像暴風雨,會落在好人和壞人的頭上,誰也無法躲避,雖然是永遠的不幸,但不比其他疾病來得更罪惡和丟臉。」當下社會最需要的,也許是少一點批判,多一點關愛。

改變的第一步是增強大眾對心理健康及心理疾病的知識,減輕歧視出現的可能性。相關機構可從不同途徑,例如網誌、講座、媒體包括電視、電影等來傳遞訊息,首先明白每個人都有患病的風險,其次是增強對心理疾病的基本認識,包括風險因素、治療、症狀等等。社會各界也應攜手合作支持及肯定精神病患及康復者在社區中的參與和貢獻,並為共創平等機會社會盡一份力。

更多有關心理健康的資訊:

心See 180 青少年精神健康計劃

憂鬱小王子之路

Holistic Health: Respect and Care

Healthy diets, nutrition, and exercises seem to be hot topics in our daily lives. Tips on maintaining physical health are often widely spread across the world. However, another important element of holistic wellbeing – mental health, is often neglected in many cultures. One of the main reasons is that mental illnesses are being stigmatized all over the world. People tend to associate negative labels with mental illness, such as violence, irrationality, insanity, and sometimes poverty and the lack of education, and so on. In fact, mental illness is like a fever of your mind; it happens when your mental state is weak and the external stress level is high. Everyone has an equal chance in suffering from mental illness. Data has shown that one in four people suffer from mental health problems at some point over the course of their lives.

With the misconception and stigma around mental disorders, people with mental illnesses often receive unequal treatment in the community, such as the lack of job opportunities, respect from others, and in most extreme case, the human right to make their own decisions of who they want to be. These people bear a lot on their own, including the pain from events triggering their emotional turmoil, side effects of treatment, and the unequal treatment from society. The path of recovery is full of challenges, as many forget they have the right to be respected too.

The theme of 2015 World Mental Health Day is dignity. It is a good time to enhance the awareness of mental health and to ponder what could be done to protect the human rights and dignity of the sufferers of mental health conditions. Let’s start with individual efforts – judge less, care more.

For more information on mental health:

Depressed Little Prince

Press Conference WSPD 2015 – Update

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CSRP marked the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) 2015 with a press conference on Sept 9. Besides speaking to the latest suicide statistics in Hong Kong, the director of CSRP, Professor Paul Yip, highlighted youths mental health problems in his address this year.  In response to the theme for WSPD this year, “Reaching Out & Inspiring Lives”, two youths and their social workers were invited to speak about their experiences with online outreach services targeted at youths. With support by their social workers, the two youths were able to overcome their psychological barriers to seek help and face challenges head on. Both youth clients made great progress since they started receiving support, and are now passing on the message of hope to others. The speakers’ experiences were inspiring to many to do their part in reaching out and saving lives.

Press Conference – WSPD 2015

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Reaching Out & Inspiring Lives
2015 World Suicide Prevention Day Press Conference

September 10th is the World Suicide Prevention Day. The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP) of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) will hold a press conference on September 9 (Wednesday) with theme “Reaching Out and Inspiring Lives”. The press conference is co-organized by the Boys and Girls Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) and Caritas Youth and Community Service. The full press release is available for download in Chinese and English.

Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, Director of the Centre, will at the conference present the latest suicide statistics for Hong Kong, and talk about new strategies for suicide prevention and intervention by better allocation of community resources. The presentation aims to promote public awareness and respect for the needs of people in society, and to encourage acts of reaching out and helping others. Two youths who had had suicidal thoughts will share on how they finally overcame the mental barrier to seek help from others, and how they have worked to help people in return. Their social workers will talk about services for youths.

The CSRP is calling on all sectors of society to care about people with different needs and help bring hope to life.

Date: September 9, 2015 (Wednesday)
Time: 2 pm (Media registration starts at 1:30 pm).
Venue: Studio 1, 2/F, HKJC Building for Interdisciplinary Research, 5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, HK
Language: Cantonese (English is available for Q&A session).

Speakers (By alphabetical order of the surnames):

Ah Ho (Alias, Service user)
LUI, Humphrey (Counsellor, The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong)
Wang Shue (Alias, Service user)
WONG, Eddie (Registered Social Worker, Caritas – Hong Kong Cyber Youth Outreaching Project – Infinity Teens)
YIP, Paul (Director, CSRP HKU)

Presentation at press conference is available for download in Chinese and English .

Program:

2:00 – 2:05 Professor Paul Yip releases the latest suicide rates in Hong Kong
2:05 – 2:35 Youths share experiences of battling suicidal ideation with social support. Their social workers share views on reaching out to those in need.
2:35 – 2:45 Professor Yip releases the centre’s recent research findings including:

  • Ÿ   Hong Kong youth’s mental health problems
  • Ÿ   The relationship between suicide and allocation of community resources
2:45 – 3:15 Q&A session

About the Co-organizers

The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) was founded in 1936. With the mission “Nurture the Young Create the Future’, the Association strives to provide children, youth and their families with various and professional services to nurture their growth. The Association will continue to strive and to create a child-friendly environment for the children and youth. As one of the most reputable NGOs in Hong Kong, we have 75 service units located across the territory and on the mainland, having over 51,226 registered members with 848,267 core attendance.

Caritas Youth and Community Service (CYCS) carries the mission to foster holistic development in the youth and the community through understanding, caring, participating and undertaking of responsibilities. CYCS encourages the youth to participate and build up a sense of responsibility to themselves and the community. This promotes mutual aid and eventually integration in the community. To realize its mission, CYCS provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents and the community at large. Examples include, Community Centres, Integrated Service Centres for Young People, District Youth Outreaching Social Work Services, Children and Youth Centres, School Social Work Services, School Support Services, Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers, Libraries and Study Rooms and After School Care Programme.

For media enquiries, please call Mr. Rickey YAU at (Tel) 2831 5232, or send email to csrp@hku.hk.