Spending long periods in isolation can take a toll on one’s mental health. This includes Stay-Home Notice (SHN) which is now common for travellers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, breaching SHN does come with severe consequences that can be overbearing for some.
On Tuesday (20 Apr), a coroner confirmed that a 20-year-old Sri Lankan SMU student hung himself in his hotel room after he was caught breaching SHN orders last year.
The student also left notes apologising to his family.
According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), the Sri Lankan national arrived in Singapore last August with a female friend, prior to commencing studies at Singapore Management University (SMU).
Both were reportedly briefed about their SHN requirements.
However, while serving his quarantine at Hotel Grand Pacific, the 20-year-old frequently left his room to visit the female friend.
On 10 Aug 2020, the 20-year-old was caught after he locked himself out of his own room.
His SHN violations were exposed when staff reviewed the CCTV footage, reported The Straits Times (ST).
Worried about upsetting his parents and concerned about how this might affect his studies, the man pleaded with hotel staff not to report the incident.
The staff, however, had no choice but to follow protocol.
On 11 Aug 2020, the pair were contacted by SMU and told to submit an explanation for the SHN breach.
They then exchanged texts where his friend said she was trying hard not to “kill herself”, to which he replied, “same”.
According to CNA, he also texted her saying “he did not know if he could take it anymore”.
The friend replied saying she was worried about being sent back home and was going to claim her own life.
Late at night, the 20-year-old called his friend, sharing that his mother did not pick up his call.
He shared about how he feared SMU would suspend them and that his scholarship might be revoked. The 20-year-old also said he couldn’t imagine explaining the situation to his parents.
His friend told him to call her if he felt the urge to harm himself, only going to bed when he assured her that he was alright.
She awoke to multiple messages asking her to call him. However, when she called and texted, he did not respond.
She then called the hotel reception to check on him.
Upon opening the room, hotel staff found that the 20-year-old had hung himself and was subsequently pronounced dead.
His death was ruled as a deliberate act of suicide.
The student had reportedly searched for consequences of breaching SHN and even left notes apologising to his family members for letting them down.
According to CNA, the SMU email requesting explanations from the pair included penalties for breaching SHN.
SMU had also called to check on the students’ well being and reminded them to take their temperatures and adhere to their SHN.
Since the incident, the Ministry of Education (MOE) put in place guidelines on how to handle SHN breaches, reported CNA.
These guidelines include preparing them mentally on a call before sending them an email. Students should also be informed of the counselling and support available to them.
SMU has since changed their policy on the matter.
This was a tragic loss of life that should never have occurred.
We can’t imagine the pain that the student’s loved ones are feeling. MS News sends our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
Hopefully, with the guidelines in place, more support would be given to students and we will not see a repeat of such tragedies.
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Featured images adapted from Booking.com.
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