Today Online reports that the death of a runaway from Tembusu Home has been ruled a suicide. The sad case illustrates the need for early intervention and assistance for people with poor mental health in Singapore.

Early Signs of Trouble

In 1977, Poh Hwe Chee married a woman and adopted her daughter. It wasn’t the happiest family relationship, since Poh’s stepdaughter disliked the way he treated her mother. Poh and his wife often argued about money and other matters.

Heightened Stress and Depression

For years, Poh’s misery over his life and his marriage continued. It became much worse around the fall of 2014. A friend of Poh’s, Goh Seng Beh, reported that Poh began to feel that life had no meaning left for him. Poh’s stepdaughter intended to sell the flat in which he was staying, and he was fearful of being left homeless. His family did not care about him and refused to support him, leaving the 70-year-old Poh alone, without shelter or resources.

Suicide Attempts and Hospital Admission

Faced with rising stress and mired in dark thoughts, Poh attempted suicide many times. He cut his wrists on multiple occasions, and once he tried to burn himself in the flat. On November 1, 2014, he was admitted to the National University Hospital. Doctors there diagnosed him with depression and sent him to Tembusu Home, a place for mentally ill and impoverished individuals.

The Escape from Tembusu House

Just a week later, Poh was visiting Hougang Polyclinic, accompanied by a home nursing officer. He claimed that his back was hurting and requested medication. When the officer came back with the medication, Poh was gone.

According to police investigation, Poh apparently escaped the officer with the intention of finding his stepdaughter. Since he couldn’t located her, his purpose turned to suicide instead. After drinking heavily on the beach at Changi Beach Park, he left his possessions on the sand and walked into the water, fully clothed. His death was ruled an intentional suicide by drowning.

Issues with Runaway Reporting Procedure

Unfortunately, Poh’s escape was not immediately reported. The supervisor of Tembusu Home mailed a letter to the police a full day after Poh ran away. Since the incident the reporting guidelines have been updated to ensure that staff at such homes will immediately notify police of a runaway, either by phone or in person. This is particularly important in cases like Poh’s, when the runaway individual may be a danger to himself or to others.

Actions to Take for a Friend at Risk

Have you noticed a friend or relative who seems to be struggling with poor mental health in Singapore? Perhaps there is a history of bad choices, anxiety, depression, addiction, anger, and other issues, combining to create a high-risk situation. Persuade that person to visit Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, where he or she can meet with Singapore psychiatrist and find real help.

Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic provides support and services for all kinds of mental health issues, ranging from anger and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder and addictive behaviours. Our modern facilities are comfortable and private, and we have a highly trained care team ready to help you or your loved one. Call today to make an appointment.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Today Online, 8 May 2017