This tragic and disturbing news was first reported late last year. Read why this Singapore mum jumped to death with her baby...
When the police officer lifted the white canvas, onlookers were shocked to see 2 tiny feet appear. The baby girl was clad in pink.
Singapore mum jumped to death with her baby
It was news that was deeply upsetting. On 23 November 2016, a young Singapore mum jumped to death with her baby, from her 12th storey unit at Bukit Panjang. Baby Jaelyn Ng was only 2 months old then.
On Tuesday (May 9), State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled Madam Koh Suan Ping’s death a suicide. He has been quoted by Today as saying, “Madam Koh’s fall from height is a deliberate act of suicide. Madam Koh had tragically undertaken her fatal fall, while holding on to Baby Jaelyn, with a clear intent that they would die together.”
Accounts from her husband, colleagues and friends all point to one cause – postpartum depression.
It has been revealed that Mdm Koh took her life because she was overwhelmed by the pressures of breastfeeding, not getting a suitable helper, and fear of failure at work.
Mum had postpartum depression
According to The Straits Times, even though she had been allowed to work from home, getting back to work was something that Madam Koh really wanted; which was why she had opted for only 2 months of maternity leave. But she was unsuccessful in finding a suitable replacement for her maid, and was upset that it had hindered her back-to-work plans.
Her husband and colleagues have also apparently testified that she was depressed about not being able to produce enough breast milk for the baby.
Coroner Bay has been quoted by the Straits Times as saying, “Madam Koh had avoided projecting her true emotional state, but her escalating stresses were evident in the messages that she sent to colleagues and confidants.”
In fact, so stressed was this new mum that she typed, “What to do when there is no way out” in Chinese in a Google search, a few days before her death.
The death of this mother and baby remains most tragic, and as Coroner Bay said, it is distressing that the mother had “tragically perpetrated the unlawful killing” of her only child.
Our prayers lie with the family of the departed. May no new mum ever think of taking her own life.
Dealing with postpartum depression
A mum who has just given birth to a healthy bundle of joy is supposed to be happy and in good spirits. Why then do some mums experience a constant sense of impending doom?
Depression affects about 10-15 % of Singapore mums after childbirth, of which 3-5 % of mums experience moderate-to-severe depression that requires medical attention.
Postpartum depression is usually attributed to hormonal, environmental, emotional, and genetic factors. Complications during childbirth, fatigue from lack of sleep, anxiety over breastfeeding and caring for the infant add to the problem. Working mums face additional job related pressures.
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include severe mood swings, unhappiness, worry, trouble bonding with your baby, and difficulty in thinking or making decisions. And sometimes, this feeling of sadness, despair and worthlessness is so overpowering that you are unable to take care of yourself or others.
Here are some ways new mums can cope with postpartum depression:
- Get that “me time”: Most news mums are overwhelmed by the sudden demand of breastfeeding and the general lack of sleep. Don’t be afraid to get help. Ask your partner or friend to take care of the baby for an hour or 2. Use that time to reconnect with your inner self, to relax, read a book, get a nap or go for a walk.
- Take care of yourself: You are probably tired of hearing the “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice, but this report shows that there is a strong link between lack of sleep and depression. So make sure you nap often.
Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is also important to ensure your overall wellbeing. Foods rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce depression. Also, drink plenty of water as dehydration can make the blues worse.
- Exercise when you can: No, we are not talking of the strenuous kind of exercise, but a walk outdoors with your baby in the stroller might actually do you a world of good, according to this report.
- Ask for support: There is no shame in sharing your feelings with others. In fact, this report shows that doing so can actually make you feel better! So, talk to your partner, to your friends, to other mums; just expel those negative feelings out of your body.
Coroner bay has been quoted by Today as saying, “The earlier a new mother gets help, the sooner she will be fully equipped to cope with depression or anxiety, and enjoy her new baby.”
As a society we can do our part in easing a new mum’s woes by making workplaces more inclusive. In Coroner Bay’s words, “It would be ideal for the workplace to acknowledge the needs of working mothers with new babies, and take steps to ameliorate the additional stress imposed on them by providing better work-life balance, flexible working conditions, and affordable, quality childcare.”
- Get medical attention: If none of the above methods seem to be working, and that feeling of doom and despair just refuses to go away, seek medical attention. And if thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby ever crop up in your mind, you need help, NOW!
Who to ask for help
- KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
- Phone: 6-CALL KKH (6-2255 554)
- Email: email@example.com
- NUH Women’s Emotional Health Service
- Phone: 6772 2037
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tan Tock Seng Psychological Medicine Clinic
- Phone: 6256 6011
- Institute of Mental Health
- Phone: 6389 2200
- 6339 3558
- Helpline (1-800-774-5935; open Monday to Friday from 3pm to 9.30pm)
- 6493 6500 / 6501