6 February 2017
Mr Kok Heng Leun
Nominated Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development whether the Ministry will consider having a specialist team who provides psychological support and mental health expertise to go with the police when the police responds to cases of attempted suicide.
Singapore adopts an inter-agency, multi-pronged approach to address suicides through promoting upstream prevention, encouraging help seeking behaviour, providing support to at-risk groups, and offering crisis intervention and support.
For cases of attempted suicide, the priority is to ensure the immediate safety of the person attempting suicide. The Police are thus activated as the first responder to attend to the crisis situation immediately.
Police officers will, when they notice signs of suicidal tendencies, recommend the appropriate follow-up including engaging the next-of-kin to assist in caring for the person, or referring the case to the Samaritans of Singapore for counselling. If there are signs indicating possible mental instability, the Police may refer the person to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for an assessment of the person’s mental state, and treatment if necessary.
The current staged approach works well and it rightfully prioritises the immediate safety of the person attempting suicide. Time taken to mobilise a larger team, including psychological and mental health experts, may delay our response.