Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Actions Against Persons for Attempted Suicides in 2015 by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 07 November 2016



Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs of the 837 persons taken into custody for attempted suicide in 2015 (a) what have been the specific measures used to arrest them; (b) how many have been placed in lock-up and for how long on average; (c) whether any investigations have been conducted to look into the actual impact of these measures on their well-being; and (d) how many of these persons have been referred to Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) and Institute of Mental Health (IMH) respectively.




1. Police officers are trained to respond to cases of attempted suicide with sensitivity and compassion. Persons who attempt suicide are emotionally and psychologically distressed. When responding to such cases, Police's priority is to ensure the person's safety. Police officers will look out for signs of suicidal tendencies, and what actions to take. Police usually arrest persons for attempting suicide in order to prevent them from doing harm, either to themselves or to others. In these cases, the Police officers will make an assessment and apply handcuffs when there is a need to ensure the safety of the person, the escorting officers or members of public in the vicinity; or to prevent the person from absconding.


2. For persons taken into custody, depending on their condition, they may be taken to the Police station for investigation, sent to the hospitals directly for medical treatment, referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric treatment, or to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) for counselling. Police do not maintain data on the number of persons referred to the IMH, or to the SOS. However, only 2 out of 1096 cases of attempted suicide reported in 2015 were eventually prosecuted. The purpose of arrest is primarily to ensure that the person receives the appropriate help, and not to bring charges. For persons who are brought back to the Police station, Police will not detain them longer than is necessary to investigate the case and to process the necessary referrals. The actual duration of detention depends on the circumstances of each case.


Law and order