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LCQ22: Elderly Suicide Prevention Programme

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Chi-chuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (February 12):


     The Hospital Authority (HA) has implemented the Elderly Suicide Prevention Programme (the Programme) since 2002 to provide multi-disciplinary services to elderly people with suicidal tendency at psychogeriatric fast track clinics. The Programme adopts a two-tier service model under which the provision of the first-tier service relies on frontline staff, including healthcare personnel, social workers and staff of voluntary agencies, to early detect and screen elderly people with suicidal tendency, and refer them to receive service at the second tier, where psychiatrists provide them with specialist treatment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:

(a) the number of elderly people who, before committing suicide, contacted the frontline staff at the first tier in the past five years but were not referred to receive the second-tier service;

(b) the number of elderly people with suicidal tendency who received services under the Programme, and the respective numbers of elderly people who gave up the idea of committing suicide and committed suicide ultimately after treatment, in each of the past 10 years (set out in the table below); and;

Year  Number of   Number of     Number of
      service     people who    people who
      recipients  gave up the   committed
                  idea of       suicide
                  committing    ultimately

(c) whether HA regularly reviewed and improved the Programme in the past five years; if it did, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(1) and (2) The Government attaches great importance to the mental well-being of the public and has been offering a wide range of mental health services (including prevention, early identification, timely intervention and treatment, and rehabilitation) which are accessible by people in need on a continuous basis. As a positive response to the community's concern over elderly suicide, the Hospital Authority (HA) has implemented the Elderly Suicide Prevention Programme (the Programme) since  2002-03 to provide timely and appropriate psychiatric diagnosis and treatments for elders suspected to have suicidal tendency, with a view to reducing their risk of committing suicide.

     More often than not, elders tend to seek help from social workers, healthcare personnel and medical practitioners they know before attempting suicide. The Programme therefore aims to enhance the awareness of front-line social workers and healthcare personnel of elderly suicide and help them identify elders with suicidal tendency and symptoms of depression, so that elders at risk of suicide can be referred to specialist psychogeriatric services as early as possible. In addition, medical staff of the psychogeriatric departments in all HA clusters will pay home visits to elders in need and offer them appropriate support.

     Under the Programme, all elders who have been identified as being at risk of suicide will be immediately referred to HA's psychiatric departments for further diagnosis and treatment. Over the past ten years from 2002-03 to 2012-13, the Programme has provided relevant medical services for over 7 000 elders at risk of suicide. Of these elders, 48 committed suicide. The HA does not have the breakdown of statistics requested in part (b) of the question.

(3) The Psychogeriatric Services Working Group of the HA regularly reviews the Programme on aspects including the referral mechanism, service outcomes and various follow-up arrangements. It also takes into account the views from front-line social workers, patients and medical staff in refining the Programme. The HA will continue to monitor closely the operation of the Programme and provide appropriate support for patients in need of such services.

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:20


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