KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — When Joanne’s mother, infected with Covid-19, was gasping for air at home, Joanne tried to look for her father but couldn’t find him.
Just as an ambulance reached Joanne’s apartment last June 28 to bring her middle-aged mother to Serdang Hospital, the young woman heard that her father died from suicide.
Joanne (not her real name), who is in her 20s, her father who died at age 56, and her mother in her 50s had all contracted Covid-19. They lived together in a small flat at Taman Impian Indah Apartment in Balakong, Selangor.
Joanne’s mother is now in intensive care.
“The man did not leave any suicidal notes. So we don’t know the reasons for his tragic decision,” Balakong state assemblywoman Wong Siew Ki told CodeBlue recently.
Wong, who narrated the family background of the suicide victim, said Joanne also has two brothers who are both married and living separately with their own families.
Joanne, a single woman who was the sole breadwinner of her household, worked as an administrative staff in a company.
Her father lost his job after the factory he was working at stopped operations in the first quarter of 2021 due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic. He and his wife shifted to Joanne’s place after losing his job. He had been jobless for more than two months before dying from suicide on June 28.
Joanne’s parents, who previously displayed some coronavirus symptoms, found out they were infected with Covid-19 when she tested positive a few days later.
“All three of them underwent home quarantine and this happened approximately one week ago before the man killed himself,” Wong explained.
“We visited the family two days after the incident. Her mother was still in the intensive care unit (ICU) at that time.
“They did not request any financial assistance. I think it is the emotional stress that has caused this incident because the man was suffering from Covid-19 symptoms and might have been afraid that the daughter will also lose her job due to the infection,” added the DAP lawmaker.
It is not known if the deceased had any underlying mental health problems. He died at a public place on a highway in Selangor.
Covid-19 And Mental Health Problems In Malaysia
This year, The Centre, a local think tank, reported that individuals aged 35 years and below, women, and single people were impacted the most during the Covid-19 epidemic last year.
This group of people possesses higher risk of feeling depressed, anxious and stressed compared to older age groups, the report stated.
According to the study, those who reported worsening physical health over the past year also experienced deteriorating mental health.
Befrienders, a suicide helpline based in Kuala Lumpur stated that it received 50 per cent more calls from people who required emotional support this year between March and May compared to the same period of time last year.
According to Befrienders, loss of jobs and reduced income caused an increase in the number of people who suffer from mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
Recently, the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department revealed that Malaysia recorded three daily suicides every day from January to May this year.
More than half of the 1,708 suicide victims recorded from 2019 until May this year were aged between 15 and 18 years. Females comprised 83.5 per cent of suicide cases in that period.
Troubled family relationships, emotional pressure, and financial constraints were listed as the main reasons behind rising suicide rates in the country.
Individuals seeking emotional support can call the Befrienders Kuala Lumpur hotline at 03 7627 2929 or email [email protected].