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Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on suicides of migrant workers

NOTICE PAPER NO. 712 OF 2017 FOR THE SITTING ON 04 JULY 2017

QUESTION NO. 1241 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

MP: Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang

Answer

1. From 2014 to 2016, an average of 32 work permit holders, including foreign domestic workers, committed suicide each year. This translates into a suicide rate of 3.25 per 100,000 work permit holders. The suicide rate for the total population, including both residents and non-residents, was 7.54 per 100,000 people over the same period.

2. All work permit holders go through a mandatory pre-employment medical examination before they start work in Singapore. The medical examination requires the doctor to perform a set of clinical examinations of various medical conditions, including a basic assessment of the mental state of the work permit holder.

3. MOM actively reaches out to workers through education programmes, newsletters and guidebooks that cover issues such as mental well-being and managing stress. These include the Foreign Domestic Worker Settling in Programme (SIP) as well as the annual INFORM newsletter in the FDW’s native language. MOM Foreign Worker Ambassadors also reach out to foreign workers at their dormitories and workplaces. Avenues of help are communicated through these programmes as well as through collaterals like card sleeves which are issued to all foreign workers and foreign domestic workers when they receive their work permit. These include contacts of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) like the Migrant Worker Centre and Centre for Domestic Employees which partner with organizations such as the Silver Ribbon to provide counselling services.

4. We also need employers and workers to work together to be alert to any worker showing early signs of mental stress, and to refer them to organizations such as the Samaritans of Singapore, the Silver Ribbon, or medical professionals, so that they can receive timely help.