Malaysian Teens Are Suffering from Mental Health Problems

February 05, 2020

Sharifah Sakinah

  • '16-year-old girl killed herself after her Instagram followers voted for her death’
  • ‘Student found dead on the day of PT3 exam’
  • ‘Private university reels from two student suicides in space of a week’
  • ‘Depressed student allegedly commits suicide’

These shocking titles have been showing up in the headlines of various Malaysia’s newspapers and online media in recent years and it’s actually a worrying situation.

Suicidal cases are quite common in Malaysia, the number of reported suicidal cases among students have been increasing over the years and the age of students who attempt to commit suicide is getting younger too.

Most suicidal attempts by students are caused by mental health issues but many parents are not aware of it. Who would have thought that a primary school student will attempt to commit suicide when they should be living a happy and worry-free life during their childhood?

But sadly, it did happen in Malaysia. 

A national survey by the Ministry of Health has revealed that Malaysian teens aged 13 to 17 are critically suffering from mental health problems.

mental health statistics in malaysia 2019

The same survey also showed the statistics for the prevalence of suicidal thoughts of 10% among the students, which has increased by almost 3% from 7.9% in 2012.

Suicidal behaviour among Malaysian teens

Why do Malaysian teens have mental health issues?

The occurrence of mental health issues among students is caused by many factors, including peer pressure, harsh parenting styles, family conflicts and many other reasons.

Among all the reasons, the survey has stated that the biggest reason that pushed them to the brink was due to family problems, such as not having a harmonious family life. 

What can parents and teachers do?

It is important that a student, a parent or a teacher to be aware of suicidal behaviours and the symptoms of mental health issues like depression and anxiety to stop the tragedy from happening before it's too late.

Some signs and symptoms of mental illness can easily be observed but we are not giving attention to them. These signs and symptoms include:

  • feeling sad or down,
  • withdrawal from friends and activities,
  • major changes in eating habits,
  • extreme mood changes of highs and lows, and
  • extreme feelings of guilt and worries.

We can easily detect mental health issues among our children, students and peer if we are willing to be more attentive and caring.

Sometimes, the symptoms of a mental health disorder can appear as a physical problem too, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache or other unexplained aches and pains.

The mental illness may get worse over time and cause other serious problems if they are not treated.

Do make sure that you are caring more for the mental health status of people around you and do talk to them when you find out that there are some symptoms of depression or anxiety because they may never realize the symptoms themselves.

It may be a life-changing event if you find out any of these symptoms and help the person to face the problem together as the mental illness can be treated under correct treatment and counselling sessions.

What can teenagers do?

A student should always find someone they trust to talk to when they face any problem, to relieve their burden and stress.

A parent or a teacher is always the best people to talk to as they have more life experience and can give constructive advice, but not all parents and teachers are understanding.

If a parent or a teacher is not someone you can open up to, consider talking to a peer counsellor as they are trained to listen to their peer’s problems and help them to find their answers.

Most schools in Malaysia have a peer counsellor club and I’m sure that they are always ready to help if you are facing any problem, so do not be shy to approach them. 

Mental health issues and suicide among Malaysian students is not a problem which can be tackled in one day, it needs cooperation from various parties like parents, teachers, peers and the students themselves.

It’s time to be more caring for people around us and lend them your ears when they need them to show that we care, and we love them. 

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