Published: 03 March 2022
Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) for each year in the last five years, how many cases of suicide have occurred among suspects, accused persons, and convicted persons; and (b) what mental health support is provided to accused persons both pre- and post-conviction.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. Between 2017 and 2021, there was one case of suicide that occurred among suspects, accused persons, and convicted persons, who were under official custody.
2. We do not track the number of cases among such persons who were not under official custody. There are usually multiple factors, including social and environmental factors that are unrelated to investigations and convictions, that may drive a person to commit suicide.
3. As regards measures, if an accused person is identified to be requiring mental health support, then the person will be referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for medical assessment and treatment.
4. In addition, the Police may, when they believe that a suspect or accused person has mental health conditions, refer the person to the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme (HT CARES). Under this scheme, CARES officers will assess whether social interventions such as counselling and mental health assistance are needed. They will then try and assist such persons by considering their situation and whether they need to be referred to further specialised services or IMH.
5. It must be noted that Police and other investigative agencies’ primary task is to deter crime, investigate, and deal with crime. They are not deeply trained in mental health issues. It is important that family members of the accused persons/suspects, identify the mental health needs, and seek the appropriate mental health assistance for such persons, at an early stage.
6. When convicted persons are sentenced to imprisonment, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) will assess their mental health. Inmates diagnosed with mental health needs but whose condition is more stable are housed with the general inmate population, and seen regularly by prison psychiatrists.
7. Those who are assessed to require specialised treatment are housed in the Psychiatric Housing Unit (PHU) within the Changi Prison Complex (CPC). They undergo psychiatric treatment programmes, which include therapy and counselling, conducted by IMH. They are managed by a multi-disciplinary team comprising prison officers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and occupational therapists.
8. SPS may also refer inmates to IMH or polyclinics for follow-up care after their release from prison. For inmates whose mental health conditions are severe enough to warrant immediate follow-up, SPS will send them directly to IMH for assessment on the day of their release.