The Hong Kong Association of Psychology (HKAP) said at a press conference on Sunday that in order to reduce the chances of police making irrational decisions due to pressure, the government should consider strengthening programs for mental health support and education for disciplinary forces in the aftermath of the Mong Kok unrest.
The association chair, Lau Kin-ying said that because objects were burnt and bricks were thrown at the police in the Mong Kok unrest, officers who have never experienced similar situations may fear that future protests will become more violent. If similar events break out again, some police officers might make irrational decisions, which could include misusing their guns.
The Mong Kok unrest broke out over the government’s clearance of street hawkers in the area. During the protest, a police officer fired two shots into the sky.
Lau suggested the government increase mental health counselling and pressure relief treatments to help police officers cope with their pressures and emotions better. He also suggested that officers with psychological problems should temporarily leave their positions in case their pressure leads them to suicide.
“There is a chance that their work – in which they risk their personal safety every day – may lead to extremely heavy psychological burdens. The relevant departments do not have appropriate support,” he said.
Three cases of suicide occurred among Hong Kong disciplinary forces – made up of eight official uniformed forces – in the past month, including a customs officer who was stationed at a Cathay air cargo terminal.
If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call the Samaritans, a 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention hotline, on 2896 0000.