On Tuesday morning (24 Sep), a 72-year-old woman was rescued from the lake at Bukit Batok Town Park after two British tourists spotted her in the water.
Mr Simon and Mrs Lesley Brewin, who are reportedly in Singapore to visit their children, were strolling along the park and noticed something wasn’t right when they caught sight of a small stool placed beside the railing of the lake.
Mrs Brewin, a 65-year-old photographer, proceeded to have a look over the railing and was taken aback when she saw a woman in the water.
“The woman was clinging onto a branch and was almost fully submerged, with only her nose and mouth above the surface,” Mrs Brewin told CNA.
She immediately went to sought help from passers-by in the area while husband, a 66-year-old retiree, attempted to pull the drowning woman out.
“I didn’t dare enter the water as I didn’t know how deep it was,” said Mr Brewin.
Moments after, his wife returned to the scene and plunged into the lake. While waiting for help to arrive, Mrs Brewin noted she gave the woman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), it responded to a call for assistance at Bukit Batok Town Park at about 11.50am.
“An elderly woman was rescued by SCDF using a life buoy and a ladder,” it added.
The woman was conscious when taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital by an SCDF ambulance.
Elderly woman arrested for attempting suicide
While the vigilance and heroic efforts of Mr Simon and Mrs Lesley Brewin are commendable and deserving of the spotlight, it is worth highlighting that the elderly woman was apprehended by the police after the whole incident.
The police told CNA that “the case has been classified as an attempted suicide”, and that further investigations are ongoing.
The case corresponds to Section 309 of the Penal Code which criminalises attempted suicide, whereby those who are found guilty can be fined, or jailed up to a year, or both.
Attempted suicide will soon be decriminalised in Singapore
However, following recommendations from the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC) which completed its two year exercise early this year to review the laws and propose reforms, the Penal Code in Singapore is set to a much needed refresh.
In the first reading of the Criminal Law Reform Bill in parliament back in 11 February, several major changes proposed in the bill were enhanced protection for vulnerable adults and young children, the repeal of marital immunity for rape, the expansion of definition of rape, and tackling emerging crimes. The bill also proposed decriminalising attempted suicides.
According to a joint press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law following the parliament hearing, the Government has considered the recommendations and feedback and agree with most of them. One of the recommendations that the Government is taking up the decriminalisation of attempted suicide.
The statement said that most of the respondents to the recommendations agreed that persons who attempt suicide should be provided with help rather than penalised. There were a minority, however, that felt decriminalising attempted suicide would be “contrary to the societal view that life is precious.”
Nonetheless, the government clarified that the repeal of attempted suicide “does not mean that the government has shifted its position on the sanctity of life”. As such, the abetment of attempted suicide remains a crime under the law. There will also be amendments to other legislation to provide the police with the power to intervene to prevent loss of life or injury in cases of attempted suicide.