Suicide prevention kit slammed for not tackling the root of the problem

Suicide prevention kit slammed for not tackling the root of the problem

Breathing techniques and steps to find a solution don’t really help students who are feeling suicidal

The Education Bureau has put an Enhancing Life Resilience Information Kit on its website, aiming to prevent student suicides. But a counselling teacher and a secondary school student doubt the effectiveness of the kit.

The kit teaches students how to identify different emotions based on biological changes. These include things such as a faster heart rate and dry lips. It also teaches students how to deal with these emotions by closing their eyes and taking deep breaths, for example. The kit encourages students to take five simple steps – identify the problem, identify the solution, consider the pros and cons of the solution, solution execution and self-evaluation.

Lee, a counselling teacher from a secondary school that she doesn’t want to name, doesn’t think the kit will actually prevent any suicides.

Sweet, smart and suicidal: the Hong Kong students in crisis mode

“The students with the suicide attempt may not be able to think calmly, or go through all the five steps provided,” she says. As a counselling teacher, she doesn’t think that people who feel suicidal are weak. Rather, these people see suicide as a way for them to put everything on their own shoulders and escape without burdening anyone else with their problems.

“Feeling suicidal isn’t about the physical effects that the kit mentions, such as a faster heart rate. It is about the inner, mental struggle,” Lee says. Lee finds it is disappointing that the Education Bureau hasn’t included a list of the most common pressures that lead students to commit suicide; such as bad exam results, peer and family pressures.

“This kit provides stop-gap measures, focusing on the surface-level, physical effects without tackling the root of the problem,” Lee says.

Veronica Lin, a secondary school student, says the kit looks more like a kit on how to calm down, due to the focus on breathing techniques and other physical traits. “And, for the five step solution, it looks like a problem solving situation but the thing is – students are having problems that are bigger than themselves – with things such as the education system or family issues – so these steps useless,” Veronica says.

Lee suggests the Education Bureau teaches students how to accept negative emotions, and focuses more on the emotional effects of suicide than the physical aspect.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Suicide prevention kits won’t help much


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