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Orientation Report on the Hong Kong Center for Suicide Research

Hong Kong has lost most of the productive portion of its population aged 15-59 years through suicidal deaths. Conducted research has shown that suicide is the sixth root cause of death in Hong Kong. In 2003 there were about 1,264 with a rate of 18. 6 per 100,000 suicidal deaths recorded, the highest rate ever witnessed in Hong Kong. The devastating thing is that the rate is still increasing. Furthermore, statistical analysis that has been conducted on the

Hong Kong population indicate that about 7% of the population had contemplated on committing suicide in a span of twelve months and 24% had actually formulated their suicidal attempt plan. These facts called the attention of World Health Organization, the government and other bodies who devised strategies to minimize this demise and educate the population against the practices of suicidal attempts and the impact suicide creates to family members, the community and the economy of the country as a whole (WHO, 2000).

Agency The Hong Kong Jockey Club center for suicide research and prevention is an example of a suicide research and prevention agency that was set up in 2002 with the attempt of accomplishing the above goal by undertaking prevention activities against suicide and deliberate self harm to increase public awareness on suicide prevention measures. The center for suicide research and prevention (CSRP) aims at using various scientific research strategies to generate and advance knowledge in suicide studies.

The center also plans to implement public health approaches in an attempt of developing effective suicide preventive measures and to be part of the formulation of social and health policies to further decrease suicide attempts, ideation and deaths (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2003). Moreover, the center plans to collaborate with other researchers to be able to build evidence based indigenous working models that will effectively combat the increasing suicide trend.

Furthermore, the center plans to hold workshop and seminars that will help them to educate front-line professionals through transfer of knowledge, skills and resources to enable them undertake practical training. The center mainly develops manuals, videos and websites containing information that is relevant to suicide prevention. The center also keeps track of updated research publications, research and services of suicide prevention through establishment of registries. The center also occasionally organizes symposiums to educate the public on suicide behavior and prevention.

In the process the center provides advice for domestic and international information exchange (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2003). The center also trains practitioners, researchers and research students and monitors the trend of suicide in Hong Kong through the use of its monitoring and surveillance system. In addition to the information collected the center also uses data from social service organizations, medical and judiciary systems to examine the suicide behavior.

Furthermore, it identifies the major risk factors that prevail opportunities for suicide attempts and ideation which include psychological, social and biological factors. Apart from investigating the cause of suicide the center also provides counseling services to the family members of the bereaved, devices strategies that can be used to prevent suicide and researches on the best treatment to be advocated to suicidal attempt patients (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2003).

The Hong Kong center for suicide research and prevention (CSRP) survives on donor funds that enables it develop and perform its functions adequately. The organization receives funds from commercial organizations and private sectors such as Pacific Century Cyber Works (PCCW) Limited, health, welfare and food bureau, the University of Hong Kong and MTR Corporation Limited. Other centers such as the Community Chest of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Jockey Club also support the organization.

For instance in 2007 the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charity Trust donated approximately USD1 billion to the organization. The Hong Kong Jockey Club gets funds from the charges it has imposed in its daily events which include horse racing among others. The money collected is used to service the club and the remaining amount set aside for charitable donations (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2003).

The Community Based on several factors and studies that have been conducted for instance the use of geographical information system (GIS) and the Standardized Suicide Mortality Ratios (SMRs) it is quite evident that the geographical area where the Hong Kong residents are settled manipulates the psychological thinking of the residents resulting to higher rates of suicide in some geographical areas.

For example in cases of flooding the government, non governmental organizations and the community at large focus on the residents that reside downstream while ignoring those who reside in the upstream, this fact has contributed to increased suicide rates in the upstream than in the downstream areas. Therefore, the responsible stakeholders should design a public health strategy that will also cater for the improvement of the upstream conditions as well.

For instance the suicide rates in Yau Tsim Mong, Wong Tai Sin and Kwun Tong are relatively high in comparison to Sai Kung, Shatin, Tai Po and Kowloon City. The Hong Kong Center for suicide research and prevention should ensure that it delivers the required suicide prevention resources to the districts in accordance to the suicide rate to be able to effectively curb the demise (WHO, 2000).

CSRP has outlined psychiatric problems and depression which are mainly caused by poverty, divorce cases, death of family members, unemployment, debts that individuals are unable to settle and poor skills for resolving conflicts, psychosocial factors such as high levels of hopelessness, loneliness, low self esteem and impulsivity, physical health factors like disabilities and chronic illnesses, personal factors such as sexual, emotional and physical abuse and lifestyle factors for instance drug abuse and excess alcohol consumption are the major characteristics that can be attributed to the increasing trend of suicidal deaths, suicide attempts and suicide ideation.

CSRP together with other organizations have established hotline services, life education programs, suicidal crisis intervention centers and other programs that run concurrently to effectively offer primary care to the community in an attempt of curbing this mishap. Although preventive services and strategic management strategies have been implemented within the community to help reduce and curb suicide levels in Hong Kong the response of the community is low and discouraging. CSRP has reported that most of the affected victims do not seek professional help because of stigmatization and the wrong perception of the preventive and treatment services. Statistics show that about 70% of the affected victims deem the practice as a waste of time because they believe that the stipulated procedures will not work.

Therefore, CSRP should further research on depression to gain more knowledge on it and thus device mechanism for detecting and treating those suffering from this predicament (WHO, 2000). Service The increasing alarming rates of suicide especially by the productive generation in Hong Kong led to the establishment of organizations whose aim was to provide services geared at improving the mental health and well being of the Hong Kong residents to decrease the increasing suicide trend. These services were aimed at eliminating the psychiatric problems, psychosocial factors, physical health factors and lifestyle factors which were perceived to be the major characteristics that could be attributed to the increasing trend of suicidal deaths, suicide attempts and suicide ideation.

These services were also geared towards increasing mental health literacy and providing the young generation with an opportunity of re-evaluating themselves in an attempt of making them to accept that they need professional help thereby motivating them to seek help in terms of treatment and counseling services (Hawton & Heeringen, 2000). The services were also geared at eliminating gender discrepancies that favor the increase in the suicide attempts of women and incorporate effective mechanisms of dealing with conflicts. The other objective for the implementation of these services into the community was to reduce the burden caused by suicidal behaviors especially because of the high morbidity and mortality rates. This was geared towards provision of follow up services to monitor the progress of affected family members and victims.

In the process knowledge on preventive suicide mechanisms that can be employed was enacted into them through the provision of educational programs once in hospital care. These services were mainly formulated geared at targeting the young generation which portrays the highest suicide risk factors. Therefore, most of these services are designed to attract the young generation with the objective of earning their attention. For instance online services are provided where educative information provided by clinicians is availed (Hawton & Heeringen, 2000). This information also helps other professionals to gain knowledge on the relevant ideas and strategies to employ when performing their duties.

Communities have also been able to organize cultural activities that perpetuate good social behavior and demands for adherence to ethics and human norms. This also plays a big part in curbing this predicament that is robbing off Hong Kong productive and efficient individuals. These services have proved to be successful as they attract a larger scope of the population not only the young generation. The services are also convenient and accessible at any time thus increasing the trust of victims into seeking professional help. Negative attitudes and conceptions of individuals have reduced because the individuals are able to find a meaning of their lives and their importance to the society.

Furthermore, participants get the opportunity of being trained thereby further reducing their chances of committing suicide (WHO, 2000). Team The teams that are mainly involved with suicide research and prevention program in Hong Kong are mainly volunteer based organizations such as the Community Chest of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hotline Center (TOUCH), Life Education Center (GROW), Suicide Crisis Intervention Center (ALIVE). The volunteers are composed of different population orientation which includes people of all calibers such as professionals like teachers, students and the elderly that have retired from their professional occupations. Members of these different teams are well trained and thus competent to handle any suicide related problem.

These teams mainly rely on donor funds to fully function and run its activities mostly from private and commercial organizations such as PCCW and MTR Corporation. Team members work hand in hand to provide twenty four hour services to the community thus effectively providing crisis intervention and implementation of other suicide preventive strategies. The functions of these teams are mainly divide into three sections which involves the prevention stage which aim at improving the self esteem and perception of individual to prevent those that portray low risks of suicide from developing characteristics that will stimulate suicide idealization and eventually suicide attempts and deaths (WHO, 2000).

The second step includes the intervention where the team members are prepared adequately and efficiently to deal with victims affected by suicide for instance providing counseling and treatment services. The other stage is the postvention where team members that are qualified in this field track down individuals that have a history of committing suicidal attempts that have turned out to be unsuccessful, to monitor them and provide the necessary services that will change their attitude towards life and increase their self worth in the community, thereby reducing their chances of attempting suicide again and suicidal deaths. Services provided by these teams have emanated positive results because it has been observed that the suicide trend in Hong Kong is relatively decreasing.

However, there has been some complains about the inadequacy of the functions of the teams in ensuring that the preventive measures and research strategies are efficient. Therefore, these teams should re-evaluate the structure of their proposed plans and functions to ensure they curb every detrimental vice that are affecting their efficiency (Hawton & Heeringen, 2000). Conclusion From the above facts it is quite evident that the implemented suicide prevention and treatment strategies are effective but to wholly curb the paradigm, Hong Kong should address the situation by implementing strategies that will cater for a larger number of the population.

For this to happen it must device a new approach apart from its traditional remedial model that will help it to detect suicide signs and risks and thus plan adequately for their prevention for instance implementation of pro-active public health approaches that can prevent the imminent growth of the suicide trend. Also better and more effective family and social support systems should be implemented to eliminate the stigmatization and resilience of the community which prevents affected individuals from seeking professional help. Most of the suicidal deaths are related to depression and psychiatric problems which mainly affect the mental wellness of individuals driving them to commit suicide. Therefore, better preventive strategies that focus more on the primary mental health should be formulated and implemented especially in geographical areas that contain a high risk population.

In the process mental health education and counseling services will be provided, family functions will be empowered increasing the self worth of each individual and there will be an establishment of a community based network that will enable every Hong Kong citizen to play his/her part in eliminating this paradigm. Lastly strategies that will be able to actively restrict risks and factors that favor suicide should be implemented to help the community from preventing or further increasing the suicide trend. Hong Kong citizens should also be encouraged to watch the educative programs that are aired on the TVB Jade Channel by courtesy of the collaboration that the CSRP and Radio-Television Hong Kong have formed.

The citizens will be able to gain important knowledge and information on suicide prevention mechanism and thus reduces the chances of inducing self harm. Word Count: 2268 Reference List Hawton, K & Heeringen, K. (2000). The International Handbook of Suicide and Attempted Suicide. West Sussex, PO: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (2003). Suicide Deaths and Attempts in HKSAR 1997-2003. Census and Statistics Department, Hospital Authority and Coroner’s Court, 2(3), 23-47. World Health Organization (WHO) (2000). Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Media Ontario, CA: World Health Organization.

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