Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Saturday January 13th 2018

Twice-retrenched software engineer cum breadwinner jobless for a year feeling hopeless and suicidal

Hi Gilbert, 

I am in my early 40s with two beautiful young boys and a beautiful young wife but we are saddled with  a huge mortgage.

To cut it short, I am sitting here in the dark at midnight trying to pour my depressed soul to someone out there after a heated financial discussion with my wife.

You  see I have been retrenched twice now.

The first one was three  years ago from a job I had for over 13 years as a senior software engineer/project leader then found another job as a system engineer/assistant project manager but that too was gone as the company closed down after a year.

I now have been unemployed for nearly over a year and my wife somehow thinks I am not trying hard enough.

Funny, I was afraid of this coming day  when I was having a job.

I have read so many motivational books in trying to keep my mind focused and not to give up on job seeking.

It’s hard to believe that with so much industrial and hands-on project support/development experience  coupled with a well presented personality - somehow I just couldn’t get a job.

Yes I do have the odd interview   but that’s about all.

This does not do my confidence any good  as each day goes by and  I watch and feel my wife’s  pain.

It’s sometimes more difficult to see your loved one’s agonising look than face it all upon yourself.

I am slowly and constantly thinking about a way out.

I know I won’t be able to do it … yes kill myself but lately I am somewhat afraid that my subconscious mind will get the better of me.

I have tried  to update my I.T knowledge, taking care of the boys and pretending to act as normal to my wife as I could but deep down inside me I am hurting and losing my pride as the provider.

I kept telling myself to hang on with hope as it is the only thing I got now.

However, this is difficult to maintain as  days go by…

I read and re-read section of “ Thick Face Black Heart” to help me to endure this pain.

It seems to help in bit but now I don’t think it is working any more!

So much is dependence on me having a  job that I so am scared of my own mind and thought at time especially the last few days … 

I hope this nightmare disappears forever. 

I don’t understand my luck and how an educated family man can  let himself got stuck in this dead end situation … 

Good Night!



Dear Billy,

Thanks for your mail and sorry to hear of your predicament.
Unemployment can be destablising as it makes us feel very insecure especially if we have financial burdens.
I remembered feeling the same  as you way back in 2001/02 when I was jobless for 18 months.
However, killing yourself is a short -cut way out of the problem and moreover you leave behind a grieving family who will feel terrible and guilty.
Is  this what you want for your beautiful family?
Wives are pretty insecure people especially when you have a home mortgage to pay up.
You can try to talk to the bank as they are not as terrible as people make them out to be.
Mine allowed me to pay only the monthly interest less the principal for six months when I told them about my jobless predicament.
Like you, I also read alot of positive material to psyche myself up during that period but the fears are still real and can be crippling.
However, during that troubling period, I told myself that I will make full use of what I have been through so that the community can benefit from my experience.
I don’t want to let the experience go to waste and could feel that the sufferings though painful can have meaning.
I later started – a support site for the jobless and our services have benefitted close to a thousand people by now.
Why not adopt the attitude of suffering with a meaning?
This way, you can revel in the painful experience as you know that later on when you have found a job, you can contribute back to society by helping those who are unemployed.
My jobless experiences were also as awful as yours if not worse.
I also remembered climbing up to the tenth floor of a HDB block during a very tough period when banks were chasing me for mortgage repayment.
Somehow I was awakened by someone opening her door at the tenth level and soon I realised the severity of the situation.
I later seeked counselling support from a social worker friend and  managed to get a PT job from a family service centre.
It is no shame to seek assistance during this tough period and it is good to talk it out with someone professionally.
Is it possible to see you this coming week for a chat at my office?
My address is posted below my signature.
Hopefully, my jobless experience can be a source of support for you.
I have also attached my ebook How to survive unemployment for your reading pleasure.
Take care.
We are here for you.
Gilbert Goh
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20 Responses to “Twice-retrenched software engineer cum breadwinner jobless for a year feeling hopeless and suicidal”

  1. jj@39 says:

    Hi Billy, I came across this the other day. U want to take a look at this?

    U can attend this IT jobfair but don’t put too much hope on it. I have attended jobfairs organised by e2i,wda, cdc quite a few times but till today i am still jobless.

  2. kala says:


    Taking one’s own life isn’t the way out. Suffering don’t just end there.

    I am getting excited lately with development in Myanmar. The people there are winning democracy and growth is coming to this land. Maybe, some of you can seek opportunity there as small businesses.

  3. oute says:

    Join the opposition lah, at least if get elected, will have $16,000 a month.

    Go and take motivatal talks and learn hokkien, teochew to speak to the voters…

  4. Kenny says:

    Hi Billy,

    Please stop thinking negative thoughts at once!
    The more you entertained those, the more you get sucked in.

    Try getting any temp. job, and any will do even if it is $6 or $10 an hour, it helps to have something to do and you can slowly build yourself up from there.
    I know it is easier said than done but in Singapore, you have to try very hard to survive.

    I was jobless for more than 8 mths during the post Sept’ 11 years as the economy was down and basically almost everything stood still. I finally found some temp. admin job paying $7/hour and the supervisor was mean and the client really stingy. I was asked to manually insert paper to the copier for 200 pages of document instead of using auto-feeder just because the client do not want to ‘overwork’ the auto-feeder..what a load of crap right? FYI, i was a fresh Uni graduate then.

    My point is, do not let the situation get the better of you. If you have a belief, pray about it. Get your Christian friends to pray for you if you can.

    Be thankful of the simple things in life, your health, your 2 boys, your supportive always have its up’s and down’s, and in such a competitive society such as our Singapore, it amplifies everthing..i hoped your situation will improve soon, remember, as long as you are alive, there will be hope.


  5. Anon says:

    Yeah, agree with the above to just get a temp job for time being, even if only $7 or $8 an hour. You’ll still feel lousy, but at least there will be some structuredness to your life. If you’re temping in a large organisation, you shld network around and find out job openings. Large companies often let their internal staff know about such openings first before advertising on the market.

    You can also make use of your spare time to think of some sidelines to supplement income e.g. freelance web development, programming/software development. Heck, even whack some iphone apps and put them on itunes for some pocket money.

    Lastly, this story is yet another warning to people going for the most expensive/ideal property they can (barely) afford. It takes just either husband or wife to become jobless and you have trouble paying the mortgage. Like I always say — you must be able to pay off your mortgage latest when you hit 45, better if 40. And when you do your calculations, take it that you won’t have any salary increase at all. And you also need to be prepared that you’ll be jobless for at least 1 year — build up your emergency funds ASAP to support your family for 1 or 2 years if you’re jobless. This means not buying car or going for vacations costing more than $1K per person. Not until you have build up your finances.

    But most Sinkies won’t be able to do all this.

  6. sal says:

    Engineering and IT is in a coldrum state in Spore/World. Due to competitive from F/Ts (cheap labour)….either you use your IT skills in sales (Harvey Noman/Courts) or trying outside of Spore especially the 3rd world countries, flying in/out from Spore. You must not give up …..with the current globalisation, people are earning money where they can find jobs. Good Luck.

  7. Thomas says:

    Hi Billy, if you are a Sporean… while busy looking for a new job; go get a taxi licence, I’m not joking.

    … driving taxi may make as much as you make before but earning a decent living shouldn’t be a problem if you put enough time on the road.

  8. Samuel says:

    Hi Billy,

    I understand your predicament as I had gone through the same torment and trial for over a 2yr period from 2008 until late 2010. The Straits Times had published a short write-out about my experience as well some months back.

    I want to encourage you – stay strong, stay positive, do positive self-talk. YOU NEED TO SURROUND YOURSELVES WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE POSITIVE AND SOAK IN THEIR ENERGY as in current circumstance, it is daunting for you to do it alone.

    I strongly encourage you to not be yourself – I mean, do something unconventional which you had not done before in job search.

    Don’t confine yourself to just the same industry, or same role. Look beyond. Be ready to try, learn new stuff, relearn. It’s not a shame. It’s NEVER a shame to better oneself.

    Don’t rely on job ads or the recruiter to call you. They work for their paymaster and unfortunately, we are not them, but the employers.
    - If you have clients previously you are closer to, contact them to ask for referrals.
    - Do you have LinkedIn? Build a professional profile n build connections within & beyond your industry globally. (I had a few interviews from LinkedIn)
    - Ask friends for referrals into their companies for suitable roles; even if it’s a different role entirely, if there’s a chance, grab it. You never know what doors may open.

    During my jobless period, I tried starting a business(bombed big time), did insurance, MLM(I don’t encourage this!), even a short stint in the marine industry where I knew nothing! But it alleviated the pain. It was only in 2010 that I got myself back into industry but that didnt last long either, so I was back in the same rut. Being positive and surrounding with right people help tremendously, more than I can EMPHASIZE. I got my current role via LinkedIn. Though a new role and pay is 25% of what I had with the rest on performance, I have learnt alot and enjoying myself for past year. I have global exposure, and because of this, has opened up many doors for me as well. Things are looking bright now. I am still paying off my debts. I am 40yrs old. But things are getting better.

    Billy, when all dust have settled and this is past, you will emerge stronger, better, more refined. You’ll have stories to tell your kids, share with others; you can empathize; it will be your turn to motivate. But what have you to say if you remain in the same comfortable role all life. I believe the only thing we’ll be talking about then will be complaints/gossips during lunch, with a bunch of crows.(like I did)

    Share with your partner if you can all this writings here so she can be in tune with you. I wish your marriage stands the test, sincerely.

    Finally, a couple of suggestions if you haven’t tried.
    -, despite its name, it has IT roles.
    - LinkedIn

    There’s a silver lining. Destiny is in our hands.

  9. Wu Kanto says:

    Hi Billy, I am surprised that you cannot land a IT job as I know many companies, including mine, are very short in this field.

    If you are interested, you can email me ( to see if I can offer you a post in my IT department.

  10. Ricky1122 says:

    Hi Billy,

    You may have to try other lines like real estate agent which requires 1 year time to build up but pretty high earning.

    The other method maybe to talk to bank about the mortage and eventually may lead to bankruptcy which may not be bad.

    • Ricky1122 says:

      another career is drafter (civil and structure), there is a 3 mths course. initially u will be pay v little. once u are experienced your pay will hit 2500 and beyond. this path also lead u to c&s engineer and eventually u can set up your own company. hope this can help u.

  11. Jim says:

    Sad fact is Billy and his wife speculated in properties by buying something that was beyond their reach. If they had played nice and just buy a HDB 4-rm in the late 90s or early 2000s, there is no way a senior engineer / project leader with also I assume another PME working wife cannot fully pay up the house by now.

    Worse come to worse just sell off the house and downgrade. Although this means tough adjustment to the whole family and lose of face in front of friends and relative, it is still better than asking the wife 1 person to pay the hefty mortgage and household expenses leading to eventual bankruptcy.

    At the end of the day Billy & wife need to come to terms with reality and realise they were living a lifestyle that was beyond their means.

    Once the house is downgraded and mortgage reduced and Billy take up some part time jobs, the family can still get by. As for suicide, definitely a big no-no, the problem is actually not that bad once he adjust expectations.

  12. Helper says:

    Relocate yourself to India. The cost of living is lot less than anywhere.You will get a descent job in one of Top 10 cos. The life in top metropolitan is as good as top cities in world. You will enjoy life forever.

    If you cannot do this close your blog.

  13. sal says:

    Its not about paper qualification but do you have the correct skill sets to do the job…no matter how educated you are, without proper training you can’t do the job efficiently…the real world.

  14. yaw says:

    Hi, I have been jobless for almost a year. It has been difficult, if not impossible, to get back into a similar role. And it seems there are many just like me struggling to find another job due to pay, age, scope etc etc. Just a thought, I am sure many of us (ex-)PMETS have the talents or dreams to run our own business. Why don’t someone, perhaps Gilbert or anyone else with a budding business idea or whatever, organize a get-together for people to see what we can start up instead of just sitting round waiting for another elusive hiring opportunity to come by? Let’s help ourselves, people!

  15. Mahendthiran says:

    Hi Billy are you willing to switch industries and maybe get a job that starts at $2500?

  16. Hello says:

    ” Hi, I have been jobless for almost a year. It has been difficult, if not impossible, to get back into a similar role. And it seems there are many just like me struggling to find another job due to pay, age, scope etc etc. Just a thought, I am sure many of us (ex-)PMETS have the talents or dreams to run our own business. Why don’t someone, perhaps Gilbert or anyone else with a budding business idea or whatever, organize a get-together for people to see what we can start up instead of just sitting round waiting for another elusive hiring opportunity to come by? Let’s help ourselves, people! – See more at:

    Hi Yaw and Billy (also those with Software background and those who are really passionate to start own business) please give me ring to discuss at 96357811. I have several startup ideas in the making. Requires sweat, but if successful you become the BOSS. Kiat.

  17. Scott Wong says:

    Hi ,
    I am seeking a job past 1 year and no luck .Have exisitings loans to service as smilar to majority of Singaporeans . Really in a desperate sitiuation .I am really depressed now. Anyone have a Procurement /Buyer job that can help me out ?

    my email is mentioned above at

    Sincerely help needed .

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