Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I be Punished for Trying?

Last updated on February 11, 2019

Attempting suicide is illegal in Singapore. It is punishable with a year’s jail, or fine, pursuant to section 309 of the Penal Code. However, it is rarely enforced in reality. This is so as not to aggravate the already delicate emotional well-being of the suicidal person. Therefore, a person who attempts suicide and fails is rarely punished.

In 2015, 837 people were arrested out of 1,096 reported cases of attempted suicide. Between 2013 and 2015, an average of only 0.6% of the reported cases were brought to court.

When Will People Who Commit Suicide be Brought to Court?

This law is usually only enforced against those who repeatedly attempt to commit suicide. This is because the courts have the power to get these people to seek treatment, via a mandatory treatment order.

Will a Person Who Succeeds in Committing Suicide Still Get Punished?

A person who succeeds and dies as a result of suicide will also not be punished, for obvious reasons. The urban legend that a deceased person who dies via suicide will have his corpse handcuffed and arrested, and/or whipped as punishment, is merely a myth.

Will a Person Who Encourages Another to Commit Suicide be Punished?

On a related note, a person found guilty of abetting suicide (i.e. aiding another in attempting suicide) will be punished with a fine and also a jail term of up to 10 years, pursuant to section 306 of the Penal Code. This is especially so if such an abettor is motivated by malicious intentions.

Does a Doctor Commit an Offence by Turning Off a Person’s Life Support?

In contrast, as long as a person is above 21 years of age, he can sign a legal document known as an Advance Medical Directive. This document allows him to inform his doctor that he does not wish to be given life-sustaining treatment in the event that he is unconscious with a terminal illness such that he is unable to make his wishes known at that point in time.

In such cases, given the patient’s express consent, the doctor will not be held as an abettor of suicide if he switches off life support and allows the patient to die.

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