Sanctity of life not violated with tweak to suicide law

Posed photo of a person with depression.
Posed photo of a person with depression.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Ms Ho Lay Ping for her views (Pitfalls of decriminalising attempted suicide, Feb 16).

We would like to reassure Ms Ho and others that the proposal to decriminalise suicide still upholds the sanctity of life.

The difference is that now, instead of dissuading people who are already so distressed they attempt suicide by adding the prospect of facing criminal charges to their concerns, we would like to do so by giving them the support they need, and helping them to regain the desire to live.

As noted by the Penal Code Review Committee in its report, there is growing recognition that prosecution is not ideal for managing cases of attempted suicide. Such individuals may not be deterred by punishment, and some would benefit instead from medical treatment. Many of the stakeholders consulted, including voluntary welfare organisations, support decriminalising suicide for the same reasons.

The fact that life is valued continues to be reflected in the fact that abetment of attempted suicide remains a criminal offence.

We have also proposed changes to other laws to provide the police with the powers to intervene to prevent those who are attempting suicide from succeeding or causing injury to others.

Goh Chour Thong

Director, Media Relations

Ministry of Home Affairs

Nooraini Hamzah (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Law

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2019, with the headline 'Sanctity of life not violated with tweak to suicide law'. Print Edition | Subscribe