- Home Team officers provided with support
- Security vetting
- The efforts of those seeking help remain confidential and anonymous
- Recent case
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From Jan. 2018 to Sep. 2022, eight uniformed officers in the Home Team died due to suicide. Three more deaths with elements to suggest possible suicides are pending coronial investigations, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling in Parliament on Oct. 4.
Sun was responding to several Members of Parliament about precautionary measures and mental health support for police officers.
A total of 74 uniformed officers in the Home Team died while in service, mainly due to illness or natural causes.
Home Team officers provided with support
Sun elaborated that the officers of the Home Team are provided with various avenues of mental health support upon signing up.
- Resilience and stress management training are provided to all new officers.
- Officers receive training on detection of personal distress, including suicide prevention.
- Staff feedback is collected through regular staff engagement and pulse surveys.
- The concerns raised include issues which officers may face in the workplace.
- Home Team supervisors are trained with the skills to identify and support officers who need help.
Support services are also provided on a day-to-day basis. In-house psychological services are made available to officers, including first responders. Psychologists attend to the mental health needs of the officers, and peer support programmes, such as para-counsellors, have also been implemented in Home Team Departments.
For the Singapore Police Force (SPF), there is also a 24/7 helpline managed in-house by psychologists and SPF senior para-counsellors.
“We have another external agency-administered 24/7 helpline which is available to all Home Team officers,” Sun added.
Bearing in mind the officers’ responsibility with firearms, Sun said all police and auxiliary police officers undergo security vetting before employment.
Medical and psychological assessments are conducted as part of the recruitment process for the SPF and most of the auxiliary police forces.
If officers are assessed at any point to be unsuitable to carry firearms, they will not be issued with firearms.
They will be redeployed to other duties to allow them to settle down and recover from whatever strains they may be facing.
The efforts of those seeking help remain confidential and anonymous
Sun also explained that officers can receive help from external counselling services.
“This is confidential and anonymous, and we do not track who attends these services. The external counsellors will activate emergency services if they assess that there could be a threat of harm by the officers to themselves or to others,” Sun said.
She added that the police do not track the number of officers who have sought counselling or other assistance. Officers are not required to report if they’ve done so, as the confidentiality of seeking help is important to encourage officers with problems to come forward.
“Officers who seek help are not specifically disadvantaged in their career because they had sought help. They are assessed on their on-the-job performance, and their promotion is based on merit and their potential to assume higher appointments,” Sun emphasised.
In a supplementary question, MP Zhulkarnain bin Abdul Rahim noted that in the U.S., suicide rates among police officers are higher than their national average.
Sun said that while one suicide is one too many, and she did not wish to trivialise the situation, the suicide rate among MHA staff is about half the national average.
Earlier this month, a police officer died after being found with a gunshot wound outside Marina Bay Sands. He is believed to have shot himself.
No other person was reported to be injured, and the service pistol was found at the scene.
According to SPF, the officer had joined the Force in September 2014. He was an officer with Central Police Division.
SPF said that based on preliminary checks, the officer “had not sought help from his unit, supervisors, or counsellors”.