1. What are some of the current issues confronting our world today? Amongst them, what is of interest and a cause of concern to you?
The ageing population in Singapore is growing rapidly. Many people have negative perspectives on ageing. Regarding old age as something that comes with a lot of illnesses, suffering, and loneliness. Many elderly go into depression and are often abandoned by their children, put into a home or left to fend for themselves.
Foreign worker rights
Foreign workers are often left to fend for themselves if they are not paid salaries or not compensated for workplace injuries. While the legislation is pretty comprehensive, one often needs to provide evidence to support your claim, something most foreign workers lack.
Social cohesion challenges are prominent in Singapore and other countries as the world becomes more globalised and each society becomes more diverse and multi-cultural. With more terrorist attacks reported all over the world, Islamophobia or anti-Muslim feelings have also been rising.
Teenage suicide is when a young person, generally categorised as someone below the age of 21, deliberately ends their own life. Rates of teenage suicide has been rising not only in Singapore but in other countries as well. This is further accelerated by the digital age as teenagers go onto social media platforms to search for affirmation, but all they get in return, is a slew of cyber bullying.
The issue I have chosen to focus on is TEENAGE SUICIDE.
2. Why is this issue important? Who does it affect and how?
Out of the four issues, I decided to go with teenage suicide as it has been on the rise in Singapore lately. I also know of youths within my social circle who have attempted suicide and it is truly saddening to see so many teenagers thinking of ending their lives when it has barely started. It is also an issue not widely talked about as schools try to stay hush about the students’ situations and some suicide cases are not even reported.
In 2016, the suicide rate for young people aged 10 to 19 doubled that of 2015 and was the highest in 15 years, at a total of 27. Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), the suicide prevention agency, cite mental health issues, academic pressure and relationship problems at home and in school as teenagers’ greatest source of stress.
Teenage suicide not only affects the teens themselves but the people around them as well. Their parents, friends, teachers and anyone who might blame themselves for not paying closer attention to the teens. One suicide affects a wide circle of people and its effects can be long-lasting. Hence, it is definitely an important issue to talk about.
3. Who do you need to communicate to, and why?
I would need to communicate to teenagers aged 10 to 21 as they are the ones most affected by this issue. There is a need to let them know that there are other ways they can ask for help or talk to someone about the problems and struggles that they are facing with. It is also important to let them know the signs of suicidal behaviour, and how to handle a situation where they suspect someone thinking about suicide. Most teens would most likely shun away from suicide prevention campaigns as they have the mentality that it doesn’t apply to them or anyone around them.
4. How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) partnered with TBWA\Singapore to continue the Plaster the Silence campaign for World Suicide Prevention Week in 2016.
The campaign sees a black plaster which encourages people to start conversations. Each poster is tagged with a strong phrase and features a strong font that communicates the severity of the topic.
The format of the poster is also very simple and straight to the point, with the black plaster being the icon of the campaign.
By making that comparison to physical pain and how we often show concern when one has a plaster on, the black plasters serves as a reminder for people to be attentive to the emotional well-being of their loved ones as emotional pain is not always visible.
This is a campaign by the Romanian Alliance for Suicide Prevention in collaboration with TBWA, published in 2017.
It features a series of posters that showcases a “fill-in-the-blank” style like in the game “Hangman”. With the simple illustration of a noose, it also makes a direct association to suicide. The poster only has a few alphabets filled in, making it difficult to figure out the word. Thereby showing the difficulty in finding the signs of suicide.
The poster is simple yet strong in delivering the message, proving to be an effective poster.
I tried searching for credible source as to who created this series of posters, but was unable to find any. According to this person, the designer was Herb Lubalin.
This campaign, while a little different from the suicide issue, is also related to it as bullying often leads to the victim having suicidal thoughts. The poster makes use of strong, straight-edged typeface that brings across the idea of anger and harm. The entire image is made up of words, bringing across the message that words can kill.
The colour choice: red, white and black, also indicates blood and the idea of death.