Suicidal individuals need help, not prosecution

Suicide is a choice some people make to put an end to their pain. It is tragic and, ideally, should not happen.

However, making it a criminal offence does not help. These individuals need mental healthcare, not prosecution.

Decriminalising attempted suicide is a more sensitive and humane way of dealing with the problem. (SOS: More volunteers needed to lend an ear; Sept 11).

Reducing the number of suicides obviously requires more than just the law. It demands a national suicide prevention plan and concerted effort from all segments of society.

It is about how we, as a society, with our intelligence, sensibilities and decency, respond to the vulnerable.

There is a need to improve mental health coverage and provide a framework to deliver essential mental health services to all who attempt suicide.

Criminalising attempted suicide could cause the problem to go underground, making it difficult for the suicidal person to receive necessary assistance.

Improved and accurate statistics can help in better planning and resource allocation for efforts towards suicide prevention.

Hauling to court those who attempt suicide will only add to their trauma and the pain of their families. They do not need to be treated as criminals.

Francis Cheng


Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

Institute Of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222

Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

Tinkle Friend (for primary school-aged children): 1800-274-4788

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Suicidal individuals need help, not prosecution'. Print Edition | Subscribe