It comes over time when hope is starved of living daylight.
In the papers, the issue of elder suicides surfaced once again. This time it is about real life, Mr Ho. He is 70 years old. Twice he tried to end his life.
Janice Tai and Rahimah Rashith, the journalists who interviewed Mr Ho, wrote that he wanted to throw himself off the top of a 10-storey hotel "because of financial and domestic woes."
He changed his mind when he realised that 10 storey may not be high enough to ensure immediate death. That was years ago.
Then, in 2014, Mr Ho went up to a 22-storey HDB flat to end his life for the second time.
What stopped him was a physical barrier (he could not climb over the railing) and a psychological wall ("he did not want to bring shame to his family").
In the interview, Mr Ho said that "his problems seemed endless and life held nothing to look forward to."
He said: "I thought death would be the solution."
Lesson? Just one long sigh I guess.
It has to be said that there is more to Mr Ho's contemplation of suicide than meets the casual eye.
It reports that "for Mr Ho, death seemed alluring when all the central pillars of his life collapsed. His family business went into bankruptcy and he had multiple chronic diseases. His home life, with a wife who was herself burnt out, and an intellectually challenged son, was not happy."
That's not all.
"In the meantime, Mr Ho's friends got older and died. Lonely and depressed, he would check himself into hospital, saying he was suicidal."
At the present moment, Mr Ho is on the emotional mend, existentially. He's being counselled by hospital staff from IMH and Tsai Foundation. He is living in a nursing home near his house where his family members can visit. I pray for his recovery.
Of course, this has to be said: suicide is not restricted to the silver-haired. The young and middle-agers may contemplate it as an escape route to a life they find unbearable at that moment.
But what compounds the issue for the elderly is their failing health and the feeling of redundancy (worthlessness coupled with meaninglessness) as a result.
The reality is this, the moment we are born, we start our march towards the grave. Every tick of the clock means that we are getting older (not younger) and the road is a uphill climb for those with health issues after 60 when the kids have all grown up with family of their own.
The reasons that an elderly person commits suicide are not unknown to us. Think of the end of the road and I am sure you can identify some of these reasons that experts have come up with that pushes a man or women off the edge. They are:-
"Mental illness such as depression, a lack of social support, physical illness, financial problems, fear of becoming a burden, social disconnection, and a lack of knowledge of avenues of help."
Sadly, the suicide rate for the elderly has been increasing. Last year, it peaked to 129 cases. It was the highest since 1991.
Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: "While a large proportion of young people are likely to have access to the financial and social support of family, in particular their parents, and see themselves at a stage of life where they believe they have some control over how their future will turn out, the same cannot be said of the elderly."
In fact, Wang Jing, a coach and counsellor from Tsao Foundation, said that "when the elderly feel overwhelmed by changes and losses, fear nothing will get better and find it meaningless or useless to carry on struggling, that's when thoughts of suicide may arise."
I sincerely believe how we organise our society has an important effect on how we think society will see us as we age. And how we perceive society would perceive us can have an adverse effect on how we view our worth in society. This may contribute to the ominous push-factor to committing suicide.
Currently, what is leading society is largely economic in nature.
Notwithstanding earnest effort to equalise the results, level the playing field, our society is nevertheless hitched to the performance bandwagon and most of our worth is pegged to how much we own or possess. (This even has the endorsement of the current spiritual fad that is the prosperity gospel).
Admittedly, culture is insidious, and like the Midas' touch, it changes everything it touches.
In our case, it does not only change it to gold, but it turns all values into materialism (or a penchant for being materialistic).
Just as introducing a new non-native species into a nation's ecosystem would disrupt its delicate balance in the long run, our society's relentless pursuit of economic growth and benchmarking everything to competitive performance and academic excellence have also disrupted its balance over the decades - with the good together with the bad.
As it stands, it seems like the bad (in terms of widening inequality, class divide and high cost of living) is coming home to roost (and eclipsing the good of being recognised as First World Economy, amongst other accolades).
The Sunday's article about casual snobbery by Chua Mui Hoong shows this insidious side effect of the society I believe we have unwittingly and collectively wrought over the years of nation building.
Ms Chua defines "causal snobbery" as "the thoughtless, unspoken assumptions about class and social distinctions that leak out in jokes, off-the-cuff remarks and stereotypes."
She warned us against that kind of elitist attitude because it "shows contempt for ordinary folk.” This is the unknowing and imperceptibly small cultural drops that eventually poisons the whole social well.
Alas, the truth is, we can't be operating on one level (economic) and expect that the other levels of virtues will invariably follow or complement that level leading the charge.
When we pursue market driven goals, what comes with it are short term, market driven values, which includes - whether we like it or not - materialism, consumerism, fierce competitive spirit, kiasuism, looking out for self and self-enrichment.
The young at that age, when they are caught in the economic grind to prove themselves to be better, faster and smarter than their competitors have no time to hide away from the centre of the market driven storm to reflect deeply about what is timeless values like enduring fulfilment and lasting contentment.
To them, to lose is to be left behind and to be successful is to have titles to one's name and possession to one's title. Their existential myopia is I believe the progressive culmination of our insidious economic culture.
This inevitably brings me back to the recent social trend of elder suicide.
I feel that some of the reasons that pushed them off the edge are related to how we have organised our society (in a way that primes our values towards market driven values instead of timeless principles - that is, materialism vs meaning/purpose, consumerism vs contentment and economic success vs valuing one's worth beyond the economic).
Some related reasons cited in my view are depression arising from our perception that society sees the elderly as being at the tail end of their productivity, financial problems partly arising from the high cost of living, and fear of becoming a burden and social disconnection in a generally materialistic and consumeristic culture that values short term over long term and instant gratification over delayed gratification.
All these factors one way or another add up. And for this reason, I earnestly believe that the issue of elderly suicide has a deeper root worth deeper exploration.
As things have developed, I think the issues are all connected in some entrenched way and it is time to take a closer, more detailed look at the problem at hand, and as a whole.
For there is more to casual snobbery in our society than we would like to think. Cheerz.