- Suicides highest among those in their 50s
- Jakarta caves in to prisoners' demand
- Manila and rebels closer to ending rebellion
PEOPLE aged 50 to 59 made up the largest proportion of suicide victims in Singapore last year, new figures show.
Last year, 57 men and 38 women in this age group took their lives.
There was also a worrying rise in suicides among people in their 60s and older.
"Those in their 50s experience significant life changes," said Gleneagles Hospital psychiatrist Adrian Wang.
"They might be retrenched or have their jobs taken over by younger colleagues or they might experience the empty-nest syndrome when children leave home. Marriages might also take a turn for the worse because of these factors."
Multiple stress points could trigger depression and lead to suicide if the person cannot cope, he added.
People in their 50s have been among the top three age groups with the most suicides for four of the past five years. Suicide numbers among those aged 40 to 49 have also been significant.
Two out of three among all who killed themselves last year were men. Professor Kua Ee Heok, senior consultant psychiatrist at the National University Health System (NUHS) said men who live alone, have money problems and have poor social support are more prone to ending their lives.
Dr Alex Su, chief of general psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, said male rates have traditionally been higher because when they attempt suicide they use more extreme methods with a higher likelihood of guaranteeing death.
As for women, relationship problems are often a cause for depression.
Rachel Lee, assistant director of Fei Yue Community Services, said: "Many women in their 40s and 50s come to us with marital issues. It could be a combination of relationship problems and physical changes like menopause. Those with good support or fulfilling relationships with their friends or children tend to cope better."
The total number of suicides hit at least a 20-year high at 467 last year, national statistics show. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
JAKARTA: The Indonesian Government is to evaluate a 2012 government regulation on remissions believed to have triggered a prison riot in Medan.
Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said he had met inmates at Tanjung Gusta Penitentiary after the Thursday riot that left five people dead, including two prison guards, and led to more than 200 inmates escaping.
During the meeting, he said prisoners complained about the regulation, which imposed stricter remission requirements on drug, graft and terror convicts.
"We will review the regulation," the minister said, adding the prison's protest might represent inmates' discontent over the new policy.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered his aides to issue supporting regulations on the implementation of the new remission policy to avoid confusion.
It is alleged that about 1,700 drug convicts or about 65% of the total number of inmates at the penitentiary were upset they would no longer get sentence remissions and decided to incite a riot.
The regulation, however, only applies to drug dealers, not all drug convicts, the government said.
The regulation, aimed to serve as a deterrent to terror, graft and drug convicts, has long been a subject of controversy. Critics claim that it violates the rights of inmates and also contradicts higher laws.
Noted lawyer and former law and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, representing several high-profile graft suspects, has challenged the regulation through the Supreme Court, arguing it contradicts the 1995 Penitentiary Law and the 1999 Human Rights Law.
A thorough police investigation will be launched to determine both the motive behind the riot in the maximum security penitentiary – whether it was due to blackouts and water stoppages only, or also to the new remission policy – and whether it was planned or spontaneous.
Djoko said that as of Saturday morning, the police had recaptured 94 inmates, including five convicted terrorists, and were still hunting down the remaining 118 escapees.
A total of 212 inmates, not 240 as earlier claimed, including nine terrorists, escaped from the prison while a fire raged following the riot.
Djoko said Amir has ordered prison guards in other prisons to anticipate similar occurrences, as the incident highlights a nationwide overcapacity problem.
There are currently 160,000 prisoners across the country, making a national average of 150% overcapacity, with one guard for 50 every prisoners against the ideal 1:5 ratio, Amir's deputy, Denny Indrayana, said recently.
"The president has also instructed extra money should be allocated if the 1 trillion rupiah (RM300mil) earmarked for the establishment of new penitentiaries since 2010 is not enough," Djoko stated after a limited Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the air base led by Susilo immediately after he landed from a work visit to Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.
Susilo slammed his ministers for being late in issuing an official statement, saying that the lack of a statement might "give an impression of omission or that steps have not been taken".
Susilo told the ministers he learnt about the incident from foreign television channels and social media like Twitter and Facebook. — Jakarta Post /Asia News Network
MANILA: The Philippines said it has clinched a key "wealth-sharing" deal with Muslim rebels, bringing it closer to ending a decades-old rebellion that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the government was cautiously optimistic of a final peace pact within weeks after the compromise deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) late Saturday following six days of gruelling talks.
"This signing indicates that both sides are really committed to finish the peace negotiations. Nobody wants this not to reach its fruition," Ferrer said after the wealth-sharing formula was signed.
Under the deal, the government has agreed to let the rebels have a 75% share of earnings from natural resources and metallic minerals in a proposed autonomous region for the Muslim minority in the southern Mindanao region, Ferrer said.
For energy resources, both sides agreed to split earnings equally, following the talks hosted Malaysia.
"We are always optimistic, but that is always guided by a good sense of possibilities and constraints of our situation," she said.
The government had initially bargained for a bigger share of the wealth, arguing that it wanted a deal that could withstand legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
Ferrer said a final peace deal with the 12,000-MILF could be signed after Ramadan.
The MILF has waged a guerilla war for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao since the 1970s that has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives.
President Benigno Aquino's government and the MILF signed a preliminary deal in October outlining the broad terms for a peace treaty that is expected to be signed before he ends his six-year term in 2016.
Ferrer, however, noted yesterday that both sides still had to agree on a formula over how to disarm the rebels as well as the extent of the powers of the autonomous region.
MILF vice-chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar said the group expected a "more contentious" round of negotiations ahead.
"The MILF fighters will not disarm unless clear conditions and terms for their safety are met," Jaafar said.
"There must also be an assurance the fighters will be free from harassment from troops once they are disarmed, if ever."
He said the rebels had originally wanted at least a 60-40 sharing scheme over energy resources, which include natural gas believed abundant in the south.
Meanwhile, Ferrer warned that failure to reach a pact could be used by the small, violent break-away faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as a justification to sow further violence.
"A failure of the agreement can by used by groups like the BIFF who do not want the process to succeed - who say nothing will happen in these negotiations – to agitate for war, and continue use of violence," she said. — AFP
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