Breakdown and rationale of funds allocated for suicide prevention on annual basis

Anthea Indira Ong
3 min readMay 4, 2020

Parliamentary Question, 4 May 2020

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Health (a) how much funds are allocated to suicide prevention services on an annual basis; (b) what is the breakdown of such funding for (i) government-run services and (ii) community partners including the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS); and © what is the rationale for current funding levels for suicide prevention services.

Mr Gan Kim Yong: Singapore adopts a multi-prong approach to suicide prevention based on building mental resilience, encouraging help seeking and early identification, supporting at-risk groups, and providing crisis support.

The reasons for suicides are often complex and multi-dimensional requiring a holistic management approach. Consequently, funds have been allocated for overall mental health awareness, prevention, detection and intervention and not specially for suicide prevention. In FY18, MOH’s expenditure on mental health was approximately $310 million, comprising operating subvention to Institute of Mental Health (IMH), psychiatry services in Public Healthcare Institutions and intermediate and long-term care facilities, including funding for the various programmes under the National Mental Health Blueprint and Community Mental Health Masterplan.

Social service agencies also have a key role in suicide prevention, by providing community-based intervention and support to individuals who are in distress. Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides support to individuals facing crises, thinking about or are affected by suicide. In addition to SOS, agencies such as Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and TOUCH community services provide helpline and counselling services to the general public and youths respectively. These early intervention and upstream support help to reduce suicide ideation and suicide attempts.

The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) provided $8.7 million and $5.7 million in funding to Social Service Agencies (SSAs) for mental health support services and counselling programmes respectively in FY18. In addition to funding suicide prevention services, NCSS has launched Belle, an interactive Helpbot to consolidate and provide 24/7 access to information about helplines and mental health services to make it easier for users to seek help when they need it.

MOH will continue to work with public hospitals and service providers in the community, including schools, social service agencies and family service centres, to ensure that we provide holistic and timely support for persons with mental healthcare needs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

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