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

23-year-old security guard feeling hopeless and suicidal in life

Hi Sir

Im not too sure if you remember me.

My name is Steven

I have emailed you regarding my job as a security guard and the challenges I faced.

I am currently facing more problems than before and have thought of suicide as a way out.

I would like to share my story with you but is it ok if you dont publish it?

If it needs to be published I’m ok just hope you can edit it thanks.

I am looking for online counselling with you so that you can help me out.

Here is my story:-

I have worked in this security company for more than 3 years

I believe they have underpaid me by $400 every month.

Most security companies nowadays offer at least $1700 to $1900 but all I am getting is only $1550 – which is way below the standard pay.

I feel very lost in life as I am only 23 now – how can one be optimistic when he is working as a security guard at such a young age?

Many of my friends have already succeeded in their career at 23.

I am intrested in upgrading myself but I am having problems knowing what I want.

I like this course called hotel management but thinking about it makes me feel sad.

Firstly it costs $15k for the whole course. And secondly when I graduate it dosen’t mean I can get a job in there due to the foreigner overload in this industry or any other industry for that matter.

Gilbert could you advice me on how do I succeed in life?

I have asked many people on how do I go about doing it but many of my friends and so called job counsellors only ask me go get a course and work hard at it.

Their talk is easy. As for me now I heard that I can be a Supervisor and after that Security OE but I am currently having problems.

Firstly, I dare not face up to hardship like for example when I am faced with a new job that is tough I would give up easily then second thing is I always face problems no matter where I go.

I wish you can help me in person.

I remember you asked me to meet you last time which I cant due to so much stress at work that I did not even have an off day for a month.

I feel suicidal right now. Do you offer counselling over the phone?




Hi Steven

Thanks for your mail and sorry to hear of your predicament.

Its true that making a living nowadays is tougher as say compared to twenty years ago.

We now have to compete with cheaper foreign workers and there is nothing in legislation to protect the home-grown local worker here.

I am glad that after receiving your first mail three months ago, you are still in the same job as before and this shows that you are also tough and hardy.

Life is tough and there is nothing to suggest that it will be easier.

However, the tough gets going and over time one gets better in managing tough situations as we are always place in the mill.

I am ok to meet up with you in person if possible for a chat in the near future.

Taking out one’s life isn’t the solution as firstly it does not resolve the situation one bit and secondly it will leave behind a trail of misery for our loved ones who will miss us alot.

Thanks and stay positive.

We are here for you.

Gilbert Goh

Editor’s Note: We have communicated with the reader via phone and have make an appointment to see the person soon for a session.

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Reader Feedback

14 Responses to “23-year-old security guard feeling hopeless and suicidal in life”

  1. sal says:

    Hi Steven, first of all … must have self confidence. You must know what you want to do in life link with your character.If you are passion in your job …the reward will come later.Good Luck.

  2. observer700 says:

    hi, Steven
    i am not a certified counselor but here my 2cent opinion as a working adult.
    First of all, a bit of my life story. I being through the up and down of the economy cycle. And I know the feeling of fear of the losing certainty and how it can degradate one emotion and self identity.
    I am currently working on a part time job (those that are still available for middle age man) hence still working to improve my situation.
    Here some of my opinion for your consideration.
    A. Current problem
    1. Only 23 year old working on underpaid, almost 24×7 low level job
    -everybody want a reasonable pay, respectful and interesting job, but the current market condition decide the availability, more importantly, will your be in the same spot forever? Of course not. At 23year old, this temporary setback is the opportunity for your to re prioritize, lesson learn to prepare you to growth in the direction where your heart will eventually take your. Sony walkman founder only success after 50 plus year old. bon jovi was a road sweeper before he become a rock star.
    2. $15k course and job market trend
    -don’t commit to large educational investment since the job market trend is uncertain instead wait until you stabilize your current situation. Decide only when you are certain which direction you want to go. Study and passing exam also need time and a peace of mind your know.

    3. Suicide?, seem to be a easy way out but it don’t solve the root of your problem and more importantly your will miss out the beautiful thing in life(joking with friend, late love better then no love, sunset & sun raise, a walk in the park after a raining day) when the storm have passes. In short term better to take leave (after working a while and some saving) and sleep for 2 day and take up some hobby, don’t leave a empty head(negative always multiple itself).

    3. defination of success
    what your define of success?, materially ?(have more money?, interesting job?, love?) if by comparism, your will always lose out. Because there is always some thing better.
    Think of those middle age uncle still have not found a job. Your are much better off right!

    B. short term issues
    1. New job that is tough I would give up easily then
    2. Second thing is I always face problems no matter where I go
    well, I guess most working problem are people issue(I not saying your are not capable of doing your job, we are all learning everyday), we can easily be MISUNDERSTOOD if the daily job duty is distracted by an worry mind. I know saying is easy, but what the point of worry over something your have no control with, at least now.

    Here the summary.
    1. Since your are 23 year old only, the current setback is temporary.
    3. Stay on a familiar job. Don’t keep an empty head, Work on thing that you are controllable. Example learn your job new duty and keep an modest attitude with your college.
    3. Take up a hobby on ½ of your off day and use the other half day, to re prioritize, learn current lesson and prepare to growth in compatible new direction in an conducive environment(example library)

    life is full of up and down, the passing storm is the opportunity to bring out the best of us. And give meaning to our existence. A good example is the resilence virtue of the 16feb event.
    forgive me if I misread some of your condition, a trained counselor will offer a more comprehensive solution. Since I am touch by the 16feb event. I feel the need to share some of my working experience .hopefully it will help my fellow singaporean.
    By Singaporean and for Singaporean. Good night and sleep tight. May the force united us all.

  3. Anon says:

    First of all, you need to be more “zhai” and confident. This is the 1 and only reason why your friends are doing so-called better, not becoz they are smarter than you. Most probably they are doing some sort of sales jobs, either retail or cars or property etc. Even secondary school dropouts can earn a few thousand dollars a month doing sales in this “boom economy” as long sell popular things and can talk cock with customers.

    You need to calm your mind down, and just fucking be systematic in thinking thru the various options. Take your time, no need to come up with answer immediately.

    2ndly, I will advise against spending so much for so-called education. Hospitality is a low-skill industry with millions of foreigners being allowed to come in. Many of them have degrees in hotel management and they are willing to work as reception clerks, bellboys, waiters and housekeepers because the $1000-$1500 salary is still 3X-5X the pay of an executive back in their home countries.

    Our local polytechnics are also over-producing diploma grads in hospitality. Most will be disappointed with the low pay and intense foreigner competition. Many think their diploma is training them to be executives in hotel chains when the reality is that they will end up as entry-level low-pay positions.

    3rdly your salary of $1500+ is normal for security guard. $1700++ is if you work in 5-star hotels or casinos or posh office buildings in the Financial Districts. Those where you need to wear formal jackets and you look like secret service agents. You need to look good and fit-looking, and be able to converse comfortably with public i.e. you need to have plenty of self-confidence. And you actually need to be able to restrain or detain people and do crowd/traffic control without breaking any laws. If you think $1700/$1800 is too low for such skillsets — you’re right. But this is S’pore where salaries for lower-level jobs are all super depressed. In countries like US or Australia, unarmed security guard salary is at least $3K.

    Count your luck. There are plenty of security guards getting less than $1500. Especially for elderly or those with health issues and have no bargaining power and working for fly-by-night security companies. They usually work at industrial places, scruffy industrial estates and construction areas. I have one 67-yr old uncle working as security guard for $1300+ in industrial estate. But he doesn’t mind as the work is relaxed and he gets to sleep 4 hrs out of his 12-hr shift. His colleague is 70-yr old and has a lot of health problems and even walks with a limp. Such is the reality in S’pore today.

  4. David says:

    1) Since you work for this security company for more than 3 years & you believe that you are underpaid, you can change company to get higher salary doing the same job.

    2) $15K to get a hotel management course? If you are willing to top up a bit more, you can even get a degree. Do not waste money on this type of useless course & paper. You selling point is you are a Singapore who is only 23 year old can work shift, weekend & public holiday as proven by your employment record for working 3 years as Security Officer. One of the bad reason why they sure take you because of you, they can employ more foreigner. You do not needs to have cert to enter hotel industry. If you can perform, you will be promoted to manager & they will sent you for training FOC (maybe with bond). Those hotel management graduate also must start from fresh at the same bottom level job with same salary as you.

    3) If you want to invest in training, try getting engineering courses & etc which will really bring you Return of Investment rather then hotel management course.

    4) Everything in life is stressful. Try to learn how to manage stress.

  5. Anti-Daft says:

    Hi Steven,

    I believe you still didn’t know that Security Guard is one of the condemned job in SG, that is worse off than Cleaners. At least Cleaners got a wage increment recently. Now, what do Security Guards get ? A BIG ZERO !!!

    And I also believe you misunderstood the rate of $1700-$1900, offered by most security companies. For that amount offered, you needed you to work 12 hours per day for 30-31 days, without any off/rest days.

    However, for your info, $1,600/- was the standard market rate, for 12 hours duty with 4 off days, during the 80′s-90′s. Take my advice bro, go and do a deeper research and figure it out !!!

    PS : How the hell does this bunch of Tertiary Educated Daft, landed as Security Guard ??? The Idiotic Establishment really knows how to fool all this bunch of Daft Gen-Y. Slam my head against the keyboard, stomp my feet like TPL, I don’t know what to say !!!

    • David says:


      1) For those who are young, they are unable to find a job & one of the reason is salary. You don’t expect an experiences graduate to request for much lower salary then fresh graduate in the market which is questionable to employer. Because of this, they take up part time jobs like Security Officer while hoping to secure a suitable job for their qualification & experiences with a reasonable salary.

      2) For those who are old, age discrimination is there to stay in the world but not openly. Those who work as HR, Hiring Manager & etc will know about this. So when mature professionals are unable to get a suitable job, they can only work in those jobs that even some foreigner may not want to do it in Singapore such as Cleaner, Security Officer & etc.

      3) So the problem is never on applicant’s qualification & experiences but is mostly on salary, discrimination factors & etc.

    • XYZ says:

      It’s obvious the guy is not tertiary educated, at most maybe poor O-level results. Otherwise one can even do temp office jobs and be paid higher on per-hour basis of $7 to $8 an hour.

      Cleaners got wage increment? Really? It’s a political publicity stunt that is meant to look good in newspapers and on TV. Unless govt agencies started to mandate minimum pay when tendering for cleaning services, the cleaner companies will still continue to bid the lowest to get the contract and pay the cleaners accordingly. When companies (both civil service and private sector) award the cleaning contract, all they know is they got the cheapest deal, waah shiok, can get bigger bonus for job well done. Do they know how much the bottom cleaners get paid? No they don’t and they also don’t care.

      Just be glad your mother gave birth to you in the olden days. These days a 2nd upper honours degree is needed just for an average entry-level executive job, and where a Harvard MBA holder can be retrenched and unemployable.

  6. andy yan sheng long says:

    hi steven i been in a security firm before..i understand how you feel and know what kind of life u are going through..that kind of life,having enough to eat but cant buy clothes..having enough to buy clothes but cant pay bills i have been there..suicide is not the best solution..however i hope you can be strong and brave enough to fight for your life.. (from a singaporean who care)

  7. Anti-Daft says:

    @ David & XYZ :

    Interesting points and constructive argument, thank you :) It’s so true that I enjoyed the haven of the good old days, but only to suffer nowadays. However, I did sympathize with those Gen-Y, born under the leadership of a complete idiot. That’s why it’s critically urgent to all those daft Gen-Y, to stop all their idiotic Gang-nam style, Harlem shake. By their foolish and idiotic acts, they may influence the old daft, thinking that the Idiotic Establishment is good.

    It’s so seriously critical to start thinking about their terrible horrible future that soon to come. Otherwise, that part time security or cleaning jobs, going to be their full time jobs, in the near future. Think about it !

    What we really need is Unity. United we’re strong. The old school mindset should change. The young must increase their knowledge and the old must increase their courage. Vote for a change is the only way out for everyone, young and old. Vote for any Opposition Party, no matter who they are. Even if they don’t like anyone of them just vote, we’ll sort it out once the Idiotic Establishment no longer in power. Peace out :)

  8. kazi says:

    I dont think Steven’s market information is accurate. Security guards are definitely not paid $1700 – $1900 as the norm. The only way to get that high is to whack OT everyday like nobody business.

    If Steven thinks otherwise, he is welcome to try and look for any security company who offer >$1700. I predict the answer will be 0.

    It will be much more useful to spend the $15k on a specialised technical course such as plumbing, carpentry, cooking than on some general hotel management course that has no specific skill.

    But the most important thing is he cannot scared hardship. If a bit new and different scared and want to run away and hide, really nobody and no course can save him. Put it this way, what is there to be scared of? You are already at the bottom of the pit liao, there’s no room to get worse.

  9. dun give up says:

    I ord from ns in 2001 and got a job as an assistant engineer with my ITE qualifications, but was retrenched less than a year due to Sep 11 case.

    I end up working as a security guard around 24 years old at a office building around city area after 1 year plus of searching for jobs with no follow up. At that time, I was drawing only $1100 per month and was very depress too as so young become security guard and those office workers keep looking at me wondering why I come to this trade at such a young age….

    After 1 month of working as a security guard, I told myself to make use of the opportunity to learn something I was promoted to assistant supervisor with $1200 salary after 2 months, but it also had more issues such as the older guards worry I might snatched their jobs and gang up to sabotage me. During this time, I went for private diploma course and managed to get the cert and changed my job.

    Although my career path till now is not so successful at age of 33 due to in IT line which is full of foreigners, I still tell myself don’t give up as life are full of up and down, just treat it as a lesson to learn everyday :-) and I sincerely hope there is a change in the near future as Singaporean First.

  10. jj40 says:

    i just went to G4S security company for a supervisor interview. On the ad, it stated $3000 salary for the supervisor job but the manager saild otherwise, he said they are only paying $2000-$2200 for supervisor job. Totally different from ad. G4S is cheating ppl to come for interviews.

  11. han solo says:


    Last jobs fair held at MBS, i overheard one just grad from NTU saying to HR recruiter (GF) saying that i want to apply section manager. I think, if those just graduate can just think like this den how about us?

    Another one interesting Ang MOh, i think 50+ applying for CFO, he talked to HR from SIA, and say are you able to link me up to someone up there in SIA, i have worked in Singapore for the past few years as CFO.

    Guess what did the HR say to him, figure it out.

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