26 Jun Frightening link between job loss and suicides
Published by New Straits Times • 26/06/2021 • 03:43 pm
LETTERS: As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety.
But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise.
Against this backdrop, the Department of Statistics revealed that the impact of Covid-19 on the economy can be seen via a high unemployment rate and the depreciation in the Ringgit against the US dollar.
In January 2020, the unemployment rate was at 3.2 per cent but there was a continuous increase in the unemployment rate until May 2020 as it reached 5.3 per cent.
Companies have to terminate employees to cut costs as they may no longer have sufficient funds to pay them, despite government incentives. Such situations instigate fear, worry and anxiety, which lead to stress and depression in an individual. In view of the pandemic, rates of suicide and suicidal behaviour have risen.
According to police statistics, 266 people took their lives between March 18 and Oct 30 last year. In Penang alone, between January to May this year, there were 53 suicides and 19 attempted suicides.
Add on to this stress are the economic hardships which have seen businesses closing shop and people being laid off. Financial stress can be deadly as it has an impact on a person’s psychological and physical health.
The thought of losing your job and the worry of trying to make ends meet can really drive a person to the edge. What more when a person loses his or her self esteem when they lose their job. Without jobs people are not going to have income to survive and this is going to drive them to the edge.
As businesses continue to lay off people, we need some kind of economic activity to not just stimulate the economy but also offer stress busting jobs which would give financial security to them in a time such as this.
I really can’t fathom why the Penang NGOs and the Penang State Opposition parties are against the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) Project. The PSR is supposed to breathe life into Penang at a time when we are suffocating economically from the effects brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Why cut that lifeline?
The creation of the three islands is expected to generate over 300,000 jobs by 2050. The Fishermen and their children are going to be among those who are going to enjoy employment opportunities in the PSR.
It is indeed mind blowing to hear a suggestion from an NGO wanting industries to relocate to Kulim instead of going ahead with the PSR. Don’t they realize what this is going to do to Penang’s economy and the employment prospects of Penangites?
If those opposing the PSR and PTMP succeed in getting the PSR and PTMP cancelled, they will be depriving Penangites a chance to earn a living to survive and indirectly drive more Penangites to commit suicide.
My appeal to these NGOs and politicians is to stop playing politics with the lives of Penangites.
MAGIMA RAJ PRAGASAM
Batu Ferringhi, Penang
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times