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Mum who jumped to death with newborn had post-partum depression: Coroner

SINGAPORE — Troubled by the unsettled care arrangements for her two-month-old daughter and her growing anxiety about returning to work, Koh Suan Ping did not seem like her usual self a week before she jumped to her death while holding on to her child.

SINGAPORE — Troubled by the unsettled care arrangements for her two-month-old daughter and her growing anxiety about returning to work, Koh Suan Ping did not seem like her usual self a week before she jumped to her death while holding on to her child.

The 29-year-old business manager had also searched the Internet on what one should do when there was no way out a few days before the incident, which was ruled as a “deliberate act of suicide” by State Coroner Marvin Bay on Tuesday (May 9).

Given the tragic circumstances of the case, Mr Bay also highlighted the reality of post-partum depression among mothers and the toll imposed on working women who have to juggle with the caring, feeding of their child, taking care of the household and fulfilling their career responsibilities.

Koh and her daughter, Jaelyn Ng, were found dead on the ground floor of Blk 443B Fajar Road on Nov 23 last year. They had lived on the 12th floor of that block with Koh’s husband.

The court heard that her husband did not notice his wife suffering from any medical or psychological condition. Their daughter was born on Aug 29 that year.

Koh, however, had voiced her concerns about the slow sales in her company and volunteered to work from home during her maternity leave. She was also upset over her inability to produce an adequate supply of breast milk for her baby.

She had also talked about the difficulties with her helper arrangements, such as having to look for a new domestic helper, to her employer and colleague, noted Mr Bay.

“Mdm Koh’s fall from height is a deliberate act of suicide. Mdm Koh had tragically undertaken her fatal fall, while holding on to Baby Jaelyn, with a clear intent that they would die together,” he added.

Mr Bay said people should be mindful that stresses, arising from medical conditions such as post-partum 
depression or the demands that working mothers face, can cause overwhelming anxiety and in certain situations, “precipitate possible ideation of self-harm”.

The birth of a baby can trigger powerful emotions, ranging from joy to fear and anxiety and result in post-partum depression. He noted that new mothers should be aware of this medical condition, recognise its symptoms and request for support from family members.

“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.”

Mr Bay added: “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.”

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