8 suicides by uniformed Home Team officers since 2018, rate in MHA half national average, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper
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8 suicides by uniformed Home Team officers since 2018, rate in MHA half national average

There were eight suicides among uniformed Home Team officers between January 2018 and September 2022, while three other possible suicides are pending coroner's investigations.

The suicide rate among Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) staff is about half that of the national average said Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling in Parliament on Tuesday in response to questions from Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) as well as nominated MP Dr Shahira Abdullah.

Ms Sun also reiterated the Home Team's measures to support its officers' mental well-being, which include in-house psychological services, external counselling services, peer support programmes, as well as resilience and stress management training for new officers.

The Singapore Police Force psychologists also try to demystify the myths and stigma of seeking help during regular mental health outreach to all police officers, said Ms Sun.

This comes after a police officer was reported to have fired two gunshots in the air using his service pistol before shooting himself at 1 Bayfront Avenue in September. He was later pronounced dead.

The police said that based on preliminary checks, the officer, 29, had not sought help from his unit, supervisors or counsellors.

Ms Sun said that between January 2018 and September 2022, 74 uniformed officers in the Home Team died while in service. While most of these deaths were due to illnesses or natural causes, eight were ruled as suicides and three possible suicides are pending coroner's investigations.

Referencing a Washington Post report published in 2021 that United States law enforcement officers were 54 per cent more likely to die by suicide than the average American, Mr Zhulkarnain stressed that Singapore would not want to face a similar situation.

Noting that the situation in Singapore is different, Ms Sun said: "Every suicide is one too many and I do not wish to trivialise the situation, but our statistics show that the suicide rate among MHA staff is about half that of the Singapore national average."

Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) asked if any study has been conducted to identify the psycho-social factors that contributed to the suicides among officers, such as exposure to traumatic incidents.

Ms Sun replied by reiterating that the MHA conducts surveys and engagements to collect feedback on issues officers may face in the workplace.

"This is continuous ongoing work, and we will need the help of family and friends because family and friends are often the most connected to these officers, and they would know if there are any life-changing events that would throw them off course and lead them to choose a very unfortunate way out," she added.

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