Myanmar maid falls to her death: How can employers prevent such tragedies?

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What are the red flags employers should look out for?

On Monday 12 June, a female Myanmar domestic helper died after she jumped out from the 18th floor of an apartment complex located in Depot Road, says the Myanmar Times. Her story, as well as the video* which shows her moments before jumping... and falling to her death... is also being circulated on social media.   

Reportedly, SCDF officers were unable to help or save her. The Myanmar Times quotes Ma Khin Lay, a member of the Singapore based Humanitarian Organization for Migrations and Economics (HOME), as saying that the girl "died at the scene sustaining serious injuries to her head due to the fall."

The domestic helper's identity has been confirmed by the Myanmar embassy as Ma Zin Mar Oo (25), and had been working as a maid for her employers for the past eight months. 

The reason for her death is reportedly still being investigated by police. 

Earlier this year, an underaged Myanmar female domestic worker also fell from the 9th floor of her employer's flat. However, she survived with spinal injuries. 

Looking after our domestic workers

Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are an essential and crucial component of the Singaporean family dynamic more often than not, especially in families with children and older relatives. 

Without them, life would certainly be tough. But sometimes, we forget the many sacrifices they have made to provide a better life for their own loved ones back home, in order to work for us.

Leaving their children, their family, their country, can't be easy. And this, coupled with issues they may encounter if they don't end up with the best of employers over here, could very easily morph into mental health issues for the helper. 

We don't know yet why Ma Zin Mar Oo jumped to her death. But doing this is certainly not a decision that one reaches easily. It almost always involves mental health implications. 

By being of aware of a few red flags that may indicate an impending mental health condition in your helper, you could help her overcome her problems, and possibly prevent a tragedy. 

  • Watch out for sudden changes in behaviour and personality. So, if she is cheery by nature and you notice that she seems miserable or very sad suddenly, you might want to probe. 
  • Look out for physical signs such as swollen, red eyes that indicate she's been crying, uncombed hair, dirty clothes etc. 
  • Does she seem suddenly distant? Is she not listening to your instructions when she's always been attentive? If yes, the situation might warrant a bit of investigation. 
  • Ask her if everything is okay if you notice her having heated conversations on the phone regularly. It could be a sign there is trouble brewing at home or in her personal life. 

Remember to also set your helper's mind at ease right from the start that if there is anything bothering her, that she can talk to you about it. 

While it's true that all FDWs undergo mandatory health screening before they are employed, these tests are quite basic and may not pick up any existing mental health conditions or signs that one is brewing. But as considerate and fair employers, you can be alert for signs and with quick action, could prevent the situation from escalating. 

Resources: 

HOME: +65 6344 0224

AIDHA: +65 9789 4041

*We made the choice not to share this video out of respect to Ma Zin Mar Oo. 

Also read for information on Maid Insurance: Finally, a no-fuss maid insurance policy that offers comprehensive protection