One is Too Many | KELY


One is Too Many – Act Now to Save Young Lives

Any young life taken by oneself is too many.
Actions to connect with youth and spread hope are never too many.

In Hong Kong, we lost one young life taken by oneself every week in 2021.

Behind this intolerable number, many more young people might be struggling in unspoken mental health distress that was not reflected explicitly. According to the World Health Organisation, for every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt [1]. This means there could be around 1,400 young people making suicide attempts in Hong Kong last year, and many more might have had serious thoughts of suicide.

Although the situation seems desperate, it also underpins how youth suicide is preventable, and exactly why we should step in appropriately before any of their negative thoughts turns into real actions.

Connecting with youth and spreading hope among them are practical ways to support those who are undergoing emotional disturbances. No matter if you're in need of helping yourself, or concerned with someone you care about, reaching out to people around and sharing a leap of faith could make so much difference in making every young person feel loved, safe and cared for, away from any actions that could harm themselves.

Let’s hold hands and put an end to the undesirable tragedies together.

"On average, one young person dies by suicide every week in HK"

In Hong Kong, we have already lost precious young lives that could have been prevented, but suicide rate seemed to be stagnant in recent years. Scholars at The University of Hong Kong specialised in youth suicide prevention described the recent numbers hitting crisis level this year [2]. According to the data provided by The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention from The University of Hong Kong, the following findings were shown:

  • A total of 1,601 Hong Kong young people aged from 15 to 24 chose to end their own lives from 2000 to 2021 [3].
  • 45 youths from 15 to 24 years old ended their own lives from January to August this year  [3].
  • 11 school-aged youth took their own lives this year in April and May alone, recording a new high in the recent 2 to 3 years [3].
  • For youths under 15 years old, 1.7 out of 100,000 people took their own lives in 2021, compared with the rates of 1.2 in 2020 and 0.9 in 2019 [3], showing an increasing trend. 


A number of factors contributed to the mental distress of young people, increasing the risks of youth suicide; including academic pressure and family issues; feelings of isolation, especially after the pandemic has escalated in its prevalence as well, possibly leading to youth suicide. “We believe social distancing introduced not only physical distancing, but also emotional disconnectedness,” said Paul Yip, Director of University of Hong Kong’s HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention [2].

Still, the reasons for youth suicide could be complicated and sometimes a combination of all issues faced in life, including family, school, finance, health and relationship [3].

Click below icon to learn more:

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One life lost is too many. Highlighting those numbers and figures might distance ourselves from these youth who are true to life, each with their own story and struggles underneath. It may even create a false sense of accomplishment working to lower the number of cases each year, disregarding the root causes and real needs of the young generation. It is not what we, who utterly care for these young lives, would concur and call for.

We reckon the necessity to take preventive measures at an earlier stage instead of later interventions to tackle those problems, and many of these suicidal cases are developed from longstanding and suppressed mental health issues.

According to our Youth Mental Health Survey in 2021, over 60% of surveyed youth did not seek help for their mental health struggles [4]. Some said they do not want to bother others, while some have no idea how to put help-seeking into words. As such, we should step up to encourage, support, and pull young people back from the abyss of despair before it is too late.

Our power – both collectively as a community, and individually as a parent, teacher, peer, or a member of the society – to save young lives should not be underestimated.


Our actions taken to prevent this are never too many. We sincerely call for everyone to act right away in two achievable ways:

To connect with youth – 

Take the step to proactively reach out to your friends, children, students, or any young people you know, and don’t spare your care but try to manifest those in any possible way – a pat on the shoulder, a hug, a text message, a phone call or a handwritten note could matter more than you imagine.

Make sure the youth around you feel loved, cared for, and safe by these tight connections. Do pay extra care to those who may show signs of, even very mild, emotional disturbances. If possible, keep that close interconnection with your young counterparts to notice early signs of mental health struggles or even suicidal attempts, as an effective way of prevention.

To spread hope among youth

The World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 to 2023 highlights ‘Creating hope through action’ [5]. It reminds us that suicide is preventable by our actions, no matter big or small, to bring hope to those struggling through tough times.

In Hong Kong where mental health is sometimes still stigmatised and undermined, providing a safe space and encouraging young people around us to speak up, sharing their own experiences, and spreading hope in young communities are all essential.

For more concrete actions you could take to support youth and prevent suicides, try out the following tips:

Tips for Suicide Prevention

Suicide doesn’t come without a warning, and noticing these signs is the first step to suicide prevention, including behavioural or personality changes in youth, as well as listening and talking with them can make so much difference in their mental health journey. View our tips for you to kick start conversations or stay motivated – no matter for yourself or the others around you.

Step 1 - Notice the Signs 

  • Changes in someone's behavior or personality may be a sign of that they are having suicidal thoughts. What are the signs? 

Step 2 - How to start a conversation? 

  • Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognise the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. Learn how to start a conversation with someone who you think may be at risk of suicide. 

Step 3 - How to stay motivated and mentally healthy?

  • The presence of protective factors can lessen the potential risks of suicidal ideation and behaviors. What can you do to help others?

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There is access to resources no matter if you’re a youth looking for help, a peer seeking ways to support your friends, or an adult wishing to understand more on youth suicidal prevention.

1. Tips for Suicide Prevention
Suicide doesn’t come without a warning, and noticing these signs is the first step to suicide prevention, including behavioural or personality changes in youth, as well as listening and talking with them can make so much difference in their mental health journey. View our tips for you to kick start conversations or stay motivated – no matter for yourself or the others around you.

2. Project Connect – KELY’s Youth Mental Health Referral Service Programme
Recognising the essentiality of both peer support and professional referral services to meet youths’ mental health needs, KELY has launched Project Connect – a bilingual referral service programme engaging youth ambassadors and other service providers.

It is an open platform where youth can talk with an informed KELY staff, and if necessary, be connected to trusted services for professional support and guidance.

3. Virtual Tree of Hope
Creating hope through actions are not just words. Sharing our feelings openly is always helpful for us who need positive vibes right now, or wishing to show support and care for peers going through challenging situations.

Post your message to our Virtual Tree of Hope, where you can keep the interactions with other youth out there, express your thoughts and feelings, and take what you need for a leap of faith.

4.Emergency Hotlines
If there’s ever an emergency situation, do not hesitate to reach out via the following ways 

Reference:

[1] World Health Organisation. (2022). World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 - Creating hope Through Action.
[2] Hong Kong Free Press. (30 March, 2022). Covid-19: Hong Kong suicides reach ‘crisis’ level, as researcher urges reopening recreational facilities for mental health.
[3] The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, HKU. (10 September, 2022). 202 Suicide Prevention Day Press Conference 
[4] KELY Support Group. (2021). Press Release Youth Mental Health Survey.
[5] World Health Organisation. (2022). World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 - Creating hope Through Action.
[6] The Samaritans. (Jan, 2019).Loneliness, suicide and young people

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