Supporting students struggling with suicide

Published Date: 10 October 2016 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Acting Minister for Education (Schools) (a) how do schools handle discussions with students after one of their peers has committed suicide; (b) how do schools work with experts and organisations to support students struggling with suicide; (c) whether every school has access to professionals trained in mental health awareness for students to understand youth suicide; and (d) whether the Ministry can prototype a mindfulness programme that sets aside time for students to have personal and peer-to-peer reflection on how they are dealing with life's troubles.

Response

Every school has a trained school counsellor. Teachers refer students who show signs of distress to their school counsellor who is trained to support students with psychological and mental health-related issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems and suicidal behaviours.

Students who are assessed by school counsellors to be at high risk of suicide or severe mental health disorders are referred to multidisciplinary Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health (REACH) teams and other social service agencies to provide additional professional support for the students and their families.

When a student suicide occurs, MOE immediately activates the CARE (Caring Actions in Support of an Emergency) teams to help staff and students cope with the psychological distress caused by the incident. These CARE teams comprise teachers and school counsellors in the school and MOE HQ who have been specially trained to handle sessions with affected students and to monitor and strengthen their coping skills. Students are reminded to be supportive of one another and to encourage their friends to seek help from a trusted adult when they feel overwhelmed. Parents are also provided with relevant information and resources to support their children.

MOE has stepped up efforts to nurture the social and emotional competencies of students. From primary school through to secondary school, students are explicitly taught time management, relationship management, coping strategies and ways to maintain good mental well-being such as deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. They also have opportunities to practise and reflect on their social and emotional learning during camps and co-curricular activities. Form teachers are provided with time to foster positive teacher-student relationships and all teachers are equipped to provide the first line of care and support. 24-hour helplines supported by agencies such as SOS and Singapore Children’s Society are printed in all school handbooks.

Share this article: