08 Jul 2019

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Attempted Cases of Suicide due to Online Influence, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Question:

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the past five years, how many attempted cases of suicide have been due to undesirable online influence; (b) what measures has the Ministry taken to ensure that websites which share information on teaching how one can take one's own life or make explosives, guns or other life threatening devices are prevented from spreading in Singapore or made accessible to the public; and (c) whether existing legislation is adequate to tackle the proliferation of such undesirable online materials and their influence.

Answer:

  1. We do not track suicide attempts by their cause, for example due to online influence. The causes are often complex and multi-faceted.

     

  2. The member also asked about the regulation of certain websites as a suicide prevention measure. Under the Broadcasting Act, the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has powers to direct Internet Content Providers to take down prohibited material, such as those which are objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public security, or national harmony. IMDA can also direct Internet Service Providers to block access to websites that contain such prohibited material. These standards are defined in the Internet Code of Practice.

     

  3. That said, because of the nature of the Internet, it is neither possible nor practicable to block or remove every website with objectionable or harmful content.

     

  4. Public education on the responsible and safe use of the Internet is the better approach. For example, our schools conduct cyber wellness lessons for students from Primary to Junior College levels. Students learn to be respectful and responsible users of social media and the Internet, and to identify and avoid inappropriate online content. Community organisations such as Fei Yue Community Services and Touch Community Services also promote cyber wellness for youths. The Media Literacy Council educates online users on how to deal with the undesirable effects of social media.

     

  5. Government agencies and stakeholders in the social sector also work together to prevent suicides upstream, including encouraging those at risk to seek help and supporting them.

 

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