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“You Make Us Love Life” - The Wong Tai Sin District Elderly Community Centre Called for Community Concern about Elderly Suicide

Funded by the H.K.S.K.H. Wong Tai Sin/Sai Kung District Planning and Coordinating Team, the H.K.S.K.H. Wong Tai Sin District Community Centre co-organised the “You Make Us Love Life” Elderly Scheme with elderly centres in Wong Tai Sin, including the Kowloon City Baptist Church Neighbourhood Elderly Centre, Ho Yee Neighbourhood Centre for Senior Citizens (Sponsored by Sik Sik Yuen), Caritas Elderly Centre – Tung Tau, Free Methodist Church Chuk Yuen IVY Club from September to December 2017. The programme rendered talks on community education to arouse public awareness towards elderly suicide problems, give members of society better understanding on the mental health of seniors and identify elders who have early symptoms of emotional problems or suicidal behavior so as to provide referral services to them.


According to statistics, a total of 954 persons killed themselves in Hong Kong in 2016. 366 of them are seniors aged 60 or above, accounting for 40% of the total number of suicide cases—the highest suicide rate compared to other age groups. At least one elder commit suicide every day on average. Since 2015, close to 30 elders died due to suicide, which accounted for 10% of total number of elder suicide cases.


On 17th November, 2017, the H.K.S.K.H. Wong Tai Sin District Community Centre held the “You Make Us Love Life” Elderly Scheme: Seminar and Sharing Session on Elderly Suicide at the Tung Tau Community Centre, which invited Mr Justin Leung, Program Manager of the Suicide Prevention Services, to give talk on elderly suicide and ways to cope with it. Leung analyzed the elderly suicidal problems in Hong Kong, and taught participants how to identify elders with early signs of suicidal risk as well as ways to cope with relevant problems. Two social workers of the Wong Tai Sin District Elderly Community Centre and the Chuk Yuen Canon Martin District Elderly Community Centre introduced latest services given to elders with high suicidal risk, such as services for hidden elders as well as support teams for the elderly. They hoped to enhance participants’ understanding towards their services so that helping hand could be extended to high-risk elderly persons.


In show of love and care of the community, three officiating guests, Mr Joe Sham, Assistant Director of the Welfare Council, Mr Li Tak-hong, JP, Chairman of the Wong Tai Sin District Council and Ms Heidi Lam, Assistant District Social Welfare Officer (Wong Tai Sin & Sai Kung) together with the district councillors, representatives from property management companies, mutual aid committee members, senior members of the elderly centres and domestic helpers joined more than 200 community members at the event.


Furthermore, the project’s training DVD for caretakers were produced to help caretakers beware of elders with suicidal risk and hidden elders, recognise their role and community resources so that related parties or they could stay alert on high-risk elderly persons and give them immediate intervention and support services, and promote the message of cherishing life in a loving community. Participating elderly centres also collaborated with management companies in the neighbourhood to arrange multiple training sessions for caretakers and distribute leaflets to educate them how to identify high-risk elders and handle accordingly. The programme also organised trainings on increasing awareness of preventing elderly suicide and ways to handle it for frontline and professional staff on 8th September and 1st December, 2017, respectively.