The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt brought stress and confusion to many around the world. For some, the overwhelming situation has unfortunately led to suicide.
It is now believed that the death of Alagu Periyakarrupan, a migrant worker in Singapore who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year in April, was also caused by it.
COVID-19 Infected Migrant Worker Expressed His Wish To End His Life
But rather than death from COVID-19 complications, the sole breadwinner with a wife and young children back home fell from height at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and subsequently succumbed to sustained multiple injuries.
A recent inquiry by a coroner on Thursday (Sept 24) following the construction worker’s death revealed that he expressed a wish to end his life—four days after his coronavirus diagnosis.
On 23 April 2020, he had recorded two videos on his mobile phone less than an hour before falling from a seventh-floor window at the hospital.
Alagu was found motionless at a third-floor staircase landing at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital after his fall from height. | Image source: Facebook/Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
In one of the videos that were 27 seconds long, Alagu said in Tamil: “Doctors are saying that I have coronavirus, therefore I do not wish to stay alive. I am ready to lose my life. Nobody or nothing has anything to do with this. I have recorded this with a sober mind.”
Details by State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam also revealed that Alagu was heard repeating a similar message in the second video which lasted for 20 seconds.
Image source: Facebook/Itsrainingraincoats
The 46-year-old was not a victim of crime nor were there any signs of foul play surrounding his fall, according to police reports.
In addition, Dr Goh Kah Hong, the head of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, testified that there were no signs of Alagu exhibiting suicidal thoughts or behaviour before his fall.
On how he managed to fall through the window, Alagu reportedly tampered with the window panes in his ward with the likely usage of a metal hook. However, it is not known where he had retrieved the hook from.
According to Dr Goh, while there are guidelines on items permitted to be brought into Khoo Teck Puat hospital, it is unlike a psychiatric hospital where staff members conduct thorough searches of patients’ belongings or restrict patients’ access to particular items.
When asked if the metal hook appeared questionable during admission, Dr Goh said: “It doesn’t present itself as a weapon of any sort or anything dangerous. I don’t think it would have been flagged.”
With rising tensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital noted that migrant worker patients are prone to feelings of fear and confusion after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
To help ease their patients’ fears, Dr Goh says the hospital ensures that they carry their mobile phones with them and that they have enough credit to contact family members, among other measures. Chargers are also provided to those who lack one.
Meanwhile, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said she will present her findings on Alagu’s death on Friday.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available.
Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute Of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
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