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Bodies found near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: Coroner finds mother was depressed, killed herself and son

SINGAPORE — Unable to cope with work and caring for her two sons, a Japanese woman first saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication.

Bodies found near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: Coroner finds mother was depressed, killed herself and son

Location near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve where the body of a woman and child were found the morning of Nov 14, 2019.

 

  • Nami Ogata could not cope with work and taking care of her two sons
  • She did not get better with medication and decided to kill herself and her autistic son
  • She left suicide notes for her husband and brother, begging the latter to raise her other son

 

SINGAPORE — Unable to cope with work and caring for her two sons, a Japanese woman first saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication.

When that did not help, Nami Ogata strangled her five-year-old son to death in their flat on Nov 14 last year, drove him to a secluded area near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and left him in the car. 

The 41-year-old mother then entered the forested area and stabbed herself to death.

The boy was first discovered along Lorong Sesuai, before Nami’s body was found some distance away. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Nami and her son’s deaths were ruled an “unlawful killing” and suicide by State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam, in inquiry findings made available on Monday (Oct 19).

Ogata had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, having lost 8kg and suffering from constant insomnia.

She felt sad that her son had autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and was doing poorly in school, the coroner noted.

She left behind her husband and their younger son.

SAW DOCTORS BEFORE THE INCIDENT 

During the inquiry, the coroner’s court heard that Ogata saw Dr Anthony Stanislaus from MHC Medical Centre three days before the killing and suicide.

At the time, Ogata’s husband was in China on a work trip. He spoke to her on the phone and had not sensed anything unusual.

Ogata told Dr Stanislaus of being stressed out with work and taking care of her two children. Her mood was very low, she had been anxious for the past few months, and suffered from weight and hair loss.

She denied having a suicide plan or intent.

Psychiatrist Anand Patil from the same clinic saw her later that day. When she told him she was feeling depressed with suicidal thoughts, Dr Patil immediately referred her to the Singapore General Hospital.

She again denied being actively suicidal. She was eventually discharged with sleeping pills for her insomnia and a memo to her private psychiatrist, Dr Lim Boon Leng, to review her the next day.

When she saw Dr Lim, she reported being unable to sleep despite taking the pills. She also said she had “one transient short episode of thinking of ending her life”, State Coroner Kamala noted.

However, she did not make any preparations and said she would not harm herself on account of her children.

Dr Lim diagnosed her with major depressive disorder and prescribed her medication that included antidepressants and a tranquilliser with a mood-stabilising effect.

He told her to see him in three weeks or earlier if her sleep remained poor or if her condition worsened.

LEFT SUICIDE NOTES

That fateful morning, Ogata sent the family's domestic helper a message saying she had taken her son to a hospital as he had a fever.

State Coroner Kamala said that from police investigations, it was likely that Ogata had earlier strangled her son with a “long elastic band cum raffia ligature” in the living room.

She covered the boy with a white blanket, left their Bukit Batok condominium unit with him, and drove to Lorong Sesuai.

She abandoned the car before stabbing herself in the chest with a kitchen knife. 

Two auxiliary police officers stationed at the Bukit Batok Transmission Station were patrolling the area when they spotted Ogata’s car on a grass patch. 

They saw the boy in the rear passenger seat and called the police.

Ogata left behind two suicide notes, in Japanese, for her brother in Japan and her husband.

She told her husband that she was depressed and about to take their son with her, and that the panic attacks she was suffering “were too much”. 

State Coroner Kamala said: “She worried that if she were to collapse, there would be no one to care for the children. She apologised for her actions. 

“Madam Nami also expressed her concern for her younger son… She repeatedly asked her husband to take good care of him. She left specific instructions for his development, care and custody.”

In the note to her brother, Ogata pleaded with him to take her younger son into his custody and raise him with his children, saying she had made financial arrangements for the boy’s future expenses.

“In her suicide notes, Mdm Nami expressed a clear intent to end her life and that of (her older son’s). After penning her thoughts, she proceeded to act on them,” said State Coroner Kamala, who also expressed her condolences to the family for their loss.

WHERE YOU CAN GET HELP

Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)

Singapore Association of Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

Emergency Helpline (Institute of Mental Health): 6389 2222 (24 hours)

Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (10am-10pm)

Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)

Related topics

coroner's inquiry death depression suicide Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

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