Category Archives: In the News

Calling all therapists, counsellors and mental health workers!!

There isn’t a better time to do this! Attend Dr Donald Meichenbaum’s “Essentials of Trauma Recovery & Treatment” workshop and help people in India to get through the Covid pandemic together!!

I’ve attended the workshop and I went over it more than twice and am going to watch it again and again, there is always more to learn from this legend, Dr Meichenbaum is 80 years old and has had experience in therapy for more than half a century!

The workshop is run on 16th July but you don’t need to attend it on the day if you have other commitments or are in different timezones like I do, you can watch the replay many times after that! (But you do need to register before 16th of July)

Please refer to this link for more information:

Who are Permission-Givers?

(This is a “follow-up” post on Should you listen to your shrink’s advices? – Do check that out if you haven’t already)

There are some obvious permission-givers, especially when we were young. Like I might ask my mum if I can have the chocolate bar, you might ask your dad if you can buy that toy, we ask our teachers if we can go to the bathrooms etc. So parents and teachers are some permission givers in the early years of our lives (for some, this can last for many more years).

Other than that, we probably seek permissions from different authorities, like when we are applying for visa to visit Russia, applying to cross states in Malaysia during movement control order (MCO), applying annual leaves from the company HR…… In a sense, we are asking for permission to do something too.

There are also some random ones in everyday life, like when a smoker asks if s/he can smoke there, a stranger with a tray of food asks if s/he can share your table in the food court…… So we all can be permission givers too, in minor, unimportant, everyday things.

What is important, is when some doctors, experts in some areas, scientists and researchers are also giving us permissions to do certain things. When food scientists found that there is no direct link between eating eggs and cholesterol levels, they reversed the decision on limiting how many eggs we can eat each day/week, and hence they give us permission to eat more eggs every week, without worrying so much about its impact on our cholesterol levels. Or, when doctors say you should not eat processed food and should do some exercises every week, they are also giving us permissions to do and not do certain things. Similarly, like in my previous post, my client’s shrink advised him to give up studying, this is yet another example of getting permission to quit.

In fact, when your parents swear in front of you, or smoke gracefully or enjoy drinking on the couch, do you realise that they are also giving you (subtle) permission to do so? When some cool kids in the school wear some fancy outfits, smoke cigarettes like an adult, they, too, are giving you “subtle” permission to do the same, to imitate them, to be cool and defiant like them…

Each day, there are a lot of things influencing us this way, affecting what we think and how we feel then how we react to certain things. Have you heard that suicidal acts are contagious? Marilyn Monroe’s death was followed by a temporary 12% increase in the US’ suicidal rates. In Hong Kong, the night after singer Leslie Cheung (張國榮) ended his life, there were 6 suicide attempts within 9 hours. If you look into all the deaths caused by suicide of some important figures and the subsequent suicide rates, you’d unavoidably found the impact of all these front page stories and news headlines.

Yes, them too, are permission-givers. If Robin Williams can do so, why not me? It’s true for a lot who are already suffering and perhaps having depression. This is their way of communicating, not by words. So this sort of permission, is only given to certain people, in certain situations. Not everyone would receive the same message (and permission) the same way. Sometimes, it’s not even conscious.

News about suicides resulted in an increase in an single car crashes where the victim was the driver. News about suicide murders resulted in multiple car crashes in which victims involved both drivers and passengers. Stories about young people committing suicide resulted in more traffic fatalities involving young people. Stories about older people committing suicide resulted in more traffic fatalities involving older people. News coverage of a number of suicides by self-immolation in England, prompted 82 suicides by self-immolation over the next year. The permission given by an initial act of suicide, isn’t just a general invitation to the vulnerable. It is a highly detailed set of instructions to certain people in certain situations.

So what can we do about this?

Be aware of it. Be aware of how you are affected by the news you watch every evening, the CCTV clips that were circulated on the social medias… You could have perceived the permissions, on top of some major life events, hormonal changes, interpersonal issues… It can end badly. But just be aware of this, the possibility of it. Pause for a while if you can, talk to someone if you can.

Please give yourself a second chance. Malaysia suicide hotlines:

The Befrienders
03-7956 8144/ 03-7956 8145

Life Line Association Malaysia
03-4265 7995

Agape Counselling Center Malaysia
03-7785 5955 / 03-7781 0800

If you come across someone who’s suicidal:

Are you one of the Judges on social medias?

I remember starting to create accounts on Facebook and Twitter during my Uni time in the UK and found it so great to be able to connect with some long-lost friends and those who are not by my side.

Since then, about 15 years have gone, I have stopped using my Facebook account, and only used my Twitter to record some work or personal significance events. Why? I realised that browsing the social medias took up so much time, and what’s more, I didn’t enjoy it, but back then, I was doing it almost compulsively (e.g. I must be browsing a few posts before I go to bed no matter how tired I was).

In the past few years and especially recent years, with the popular of social medias across almost all age groups, there have been more and more cyber bullying, which has led to different social issues.

Have you thought of why there have been so many self-harms and suicides these days?

You might think that it’s just some words, why are people taking it so personally? But have you heard of “words are sharper than swords”?

Words are sharper than sw... | Quotes & Writings by Balamurugan Selvaraj |  YourQuote

What’s worse, is when everyone is thinking the same and adding a few more slashes on it, thinking that it doesn’t matter, thinking that this is freedom of speech, thinking that “I’m just expressing myself”. In addition, people don’t usually scroll through social medias in a calm and relaxed mood, quite often it’s when one’s waiting for something, or avoiding some emotional conflicts (“experiential avoidance“**), or is in some mild agitation or frustration, which is not noticeable immediately. Yet people often feel good after leaving such “smart” and “free” judgements. In a sense, their frustration, boredom, loneliness or anxiety gets to release by leaving comments of hatred, criticism, ridicule, defame etc. In another words, it’s rewarding to do so, the next time, they are more likely to conduct similar behaviour.

Honestly I’d like to think that humans are kind in general. But when I looked at those kinds of comments, I couldn’t see the kindness. I tried to look for reasons just so I can still think that humans are not that bad actually. Like for example, I guess many of them didn’t think about the consequences of those words, plus social medias often give us a sense of secrecy (like we are hiding behind the keyboards and do not need to be responsible), I guess if they knew their words can take lives away, they wouldn’t have done it. Or would they?

Next time before you defame, ridicule, criticise someone on social media, please consider:

  • Have you done anything wrong in your life? If you do, consider that you will not be allowed to explain for your wrongdoing, and do you deserve that kind of comments?
  • Do you know the whole story? Is it possible to know the full story just from one or two person’s post or from the news?
  • Do you know what this person is going through? Could it be that s/he is suffering from mental problems but couldn’t get the help s/he needed?
  • Will you say the same thing if the target is someone you love?
  • Is your comment going to make this world a better and more peaceful place?
  • Are you leaving the comments just so you are feeling better yourself? Do you know that you benefit yourself from hurting others?

**Experiential Avoidance: The attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations, and other internal experiences, which usually leads to more harms and problems in the long-run. For those social media frequenters, I suggest that you try to notice how often when you’re feeling a little bored, frustrated, sad, disappointed, scared, worried, and your immediate response is turn to your phone, your social medias.

P.S. I have always wanted to write about this, but the intention became strongest after hearing what a support group member had to go through due to cyber bullying. I’m just glad she is still striving to stay alive despite what others have done to her.






In the News: Man Jailed for Attempted Suicide

Quite speechless with things like this still happening in Malaysia:

The Star: Jobless man jailed for trying to kill himself

Instead of providing any direct or indirect help needed, people are being jailed for attempting to end his or her life… I wonder what happens when this person is back in the society.

And what does this sentence serve? To warn people not to kill themselves, and if you really want to do it, make sure you don’t come out alive as you would be jailed?! (*Sarcasm* that really isn’t what I’m trying to say).

Please give yourself a second chance. Malaysia suicide hotlines:

The Befrienders
03-7956 8144/ 03-7956 8145

Life Line Association Malaysia
03-4265 7995

Agape Counselling Center Malaysia
03-7785 5955 / 03-7781 0800

If you come across someone who’s suicidal: