Changes in protocol for SPF, SCDF and IMH following decriminalisation of attempted suicide in Singapore

Parliamentary Question, 4 Feb 2020

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/decriminalise-suicide-singapore-penal-code-reform-crime-prevent-12230298

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what are the changes in protocol for SPF, SCDF, IMH and other agencies respectively given the decriminalisation of suicide from 1 January 2020; (b) whether the Ministry will consider including suicide first-aiders as part of the SGSecure Responder effort in the SGSecure application, similar to how first-aiders are tapped on to respond to individuals with physical health emergencies; and © whether the Ministry will consider piloting an emergency response model that adopts a specialised mental health ambulance or emergency response team

Mr K Shanmugam: As attempted suicide is no longer a crime, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) will no longer record it as an offence. However, the Government will continue to track data on attempted suicide that are made known to us.

The Member suggested tapping on first-aiders to help in cases of attempted suicide. SGSecure Responder is an initiative to alert community responders to fire and cardiac arrest cases. It is much more challenging for community responders to intervene in attempted suicide cases due to their complexity. Members of the public should continue to call the Police or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

The Member also suggested specialised emergency response for suicide cases. That may not be feasible. We have SPF and SCDF officers who are trained to intervene in suicide attempts, and they will be mobilised when such cases are reported. The SPF’s Crisis Negotiation Unit will also help where necessary. The SCDF’s Disaster Assistance and Rescue Teams (DART) are specially trained for complex rescue operations, including cases of attempted suicide at height and in confined spaces. There are also helplines, such as the Institute of Mental Health’s (IMH) 24-hour Mental Health Helpline, that distressed persons can call.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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).

Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

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