In Singapore, it is a crime for anyone to commit suicide; however, according to, one women’s group is pressuring the government to amend the legal code. They claim that the criminalisation of the act doesn’t necessarily act as an effective deterrent, but rather adds to the mental distress of people who already feel depressed and hopeless.

The Current Legal Code

Every year, from 2010 to 2014, an average of 400 people in Singapore have committed suicide. There is an average of 1,000 suicide attempts each year as well.

Currently, the Criminal Procedure Code is not very forgiving towards severely depressed people struggling with mental health in Singapore. The code labels attempted suicide as a seizable offence. In addition, reporting an attempted suicide is mandatory for those who become aware of the attempt.

The Movement for Amendment

The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is requesting that the authorities repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code. Doing so would remove attempted suicide from its current criminal status.

AWARE is taking this action because of the negative impact that suicide criminalisation has had on the perpetrators. Those who succeed in their suicide attempts are beyond the reach of the law and cannot be penalised anyway; so it is the survivors who bear the burden of the law. Often, suicide survivors end up being arrested.

The Reasons for Change

The last thing that these troubled individuals need is the added burden of legal action and social stigma. Instead, they need a caring, supportive social environment and help from a psychiatrist in Singapore to work through their ongoing issues of depression.

The mandatory reporting law also keeps some people from seeking aid or treatment. If a person is self-harming, it can be misconstrued or misinterpreted and police could become involved even if the individual doesn’t intend to commit suicide. The fear of attracting too much attention and being reported can keep sufferers from speaking out and receiving the help they so desperately need.

Training for Suicide Attempt Responders

Unfortunately, not all police officers are trained to respond correctly when called about an incident of self-harm or attempted suicide. While some are gentle and kind, others act in an abrupt or almost threatening manner. AWARE is requesting that police in Singapore be offered training in psychological first aid, or that a dedicated suicide response unit be created. That way, the police can ensure that the individual is safe while avoiding the appearance of punitive action.

Some have suggested that Singapore’s Appropriate Adult Scheme could be adapted for suicide attempts, allowing the presence of a trained third party in the room to assist with police handling of unstable or vulnerable individuals.

A Place to Find Help

If you suspect that someone you know may be self-harming or contemplating suicide, gently urge that person to seek help from a psychologist in Singapore. The mental health professionals at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic will take every precaution to ensure that every patient is safe, supported, and involved in a treatment plan that leads to better mental health. Our confidential services are open to everyone. Support a troubled friend and help that person take the first step towards a better future.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Today, September 9, 2016