should we include “suicide” in the event title?


What a way to start the first blog post in the new year, which of course, is but an arbitrary measure of time that humans decided on to pressure ourselves to achieve goals and targets. Just because it is a new year, the difficult issues do not go away. It is a real issue. In Hong Kong. And e-ve-ry-where around the world. Emphasis added.

I was first aware of the widespread issue of youth suicides in April last year, when I was quoted in South China Morning Post for an article on depression. Little did I know then it was part of a series on the extent of youth suicides in HK. Two friends encouraged me to do what I am currently doing in Beijing in HK because I grew up there and could relate. A third person whom I had met for the first time over the summer after months of emailing added his support. We decided to do something to talk about this not so lovey-dovey topic.So it was, almost two months ago in November, we had some 30 people gather in a room in Central, generously supported by a friend of a friend, to hear the stories behind these youth suicides and on methods to prevent more from happening.

There were no large backdrops, no Instagram moment, no ushers, no champagne, no glitz. Friends I had personally invited turned me down as the topic was too heavy and overwhelming. This was not the usual fanciful and celebratory party after a digital conference. It was tough.

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Benita, as moderator, asked how many people in the audience knew someone personally who had committed suicide.

Half the room’s hands went up.

I was dumbstruck. For a moment, I thought I had lost my gravity and would fall out of my chair. Even though I have heard stories, read the news, and have my personal experience, the image of all those hands flying up in the air made my heart ache. Every hand represented moments of pain, periods of struggle, accentuated frustrations, and agonizing misunderstandings.

It was a struggle indeed, for how would we name the event? Suicide would turn people off and yet we did not want to shy away from the reality. The more difficult to speak about it, the more significant it was to lay it out in the open.  This ws why we did not title the event “How to be Happy.”

So we can talk bluntly. So we can find Shelter.

Monika Liechti was gracious and shared with me her reflections: “These words exploded from inside my heart after joining the podium event hosted by Bearapy with the title, Breaking Taboos – Stories Behind Youth Suicides, Burnout, and Stress.”

SHELTER (© Monika Liechti 2017)

How can it be so many crouch
Shrink into the shell, are feeling crap
They cannot breathe. They live a life
In fear of failure everyday

How can it be they are not heard
Being ignored, are feeling sad
Their sighs and cries are carried away
Into the dark night everyday

How can it be they get dismissed:
Don’t cry, it’s gonna be ok.
Their feelings seem to be a risk
For high achievement everyday

Children need a shelter
Someone to feel like home
Yes they need a shelter
A loving place to grow
Children need a shelter
Someone to feel like home
Yes they need a shelter
A caring place to grow

How can it be they are not seen
heavy-hearted, are losing hope
Having no rest, no space to grow
They think of quitting everyday

Let us stay with them
Listen to their pain
Care for what they care
Let them not fade away

Would you be a shelter
A place to call home
Would you be a shelter
A loving place to grow

Let us be a shelter
A place to call home
Let us be a shelter
For those who need us most


And thus it is, for 2018, I hope we can find it in our hearts to give others some shelter, with no judgment, with no preconceptions, and with no unsolicited advice. Make space for those who need help to find help.

Special thanks again to:

Mr. Clarence Tsang, Executive Director, Samaritan Befrienders HK, for reminding us that parents have the responsibility to guide our youth in emotional awareness;

Ms. Diane Lo, Educational Psychologist, Caritas HK, for giving us tips on how to listen and converse with those in need;

Mr. Jimmy Wu, Student at Lingnan University, for sharing his views and the mindsets of youth in a highly competitive society;

Ms. Benita Chick; Community Outreach Director, Ming Wai Youth Office, for initiating the event and moderating the panel;

Mr. JP Reimann; Regulatory Lead, FinFabrik, for supporting behind the scenes, especially with marketing the event;

Ms. Vivian Lai, Education Programs Producer, General Assembly, for sponsoring the event with supplying the venue.

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) is born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Play Consultant for corporates interested in creative change management and employee well-being using the psychology of playfulness.