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Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

Delayed funerals, closed venues cause for concern

Delayed funerals, closed venues cause for concern

Families of deceased Covid patients suffer from increased mental and emotional stress because some were unable to host decent funerals for their loved ones, a suicide-prevention group said.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention's associate director Sunny Liu Kwong-sun encouraged the public to reach out to others during times of need.

Liu yesterday said the bereaved need a channel to vent their emotions, otherwise negative feelings may accumulate. He encouraged the public to "generate more positive energy" in the fight to overcome the pandemic.

Elderly people who are living alone or in care homes are under a significant amount of stress, Liu said, citing mood swings, insomnia and depression as commonplace among the elderly during Covid outbreaks.

Additionally, care home employees have been stretched thin due to manpower shortage, Liu said, making it difficult for them to arrange calls between residents and their relatives.

"I hope that as the epidemic subsides, care homes can arrange more video calls or even relax visiting arrangements so that children can talk to their elderly relatives," Liu said.

The center's director Paul Yip Siu-fai said many elderly people are accustomed to daily activities such as visiting public libraries or swimming in public pools.

They were deprived of their routines after these public venues were closed, Yip said, adding it is possible for authorities to reopen some of the facilities. He said public beaches can reopen in phases while the mask requirement in country parks can be relaxed.

Last month, the center issued an "extremely-high" level alert based on estimates of suicides, with researchers saying those aged over 65 are at highest risk.

The number of suicides increased from an average of 1.8 per day to a peak of 4.05 in the week leading up to March 18. Although the figure fell to 3.05 recently, it still remains at an alarming level, Yip said.

Most of those who committed suicide were middle-aged or elderly citizens, he added.

The young are not to be neglected as well, Yip said, encouraging children to get vaccinated.

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