COVID-19-positive migrant worker found motionless at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital staircase landing left recordings prior to his death

This article contains descriptions of suicide and death that may be distressing. Readers’ discretion is advised.

A COVID-19-positive migrant worker who was found lying motionless at a staircase landing at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) reportedly left two messages indicating that he no longer wanted to stay alive.

Yahoo! News Singapore reported on Thursday (24 September) that according to a transcript submitted to a coroner’s court today, Alagu Periyakaruppan said in the recordings that he was clear-headed when making the recording and that nobody had anything to do with his decision.

The KTPH psychiatrist leading the committee of inquiry into Mr Alagu’s death did not find any lapse in his clinical care.

Additionally, the deceased did not show any signs of harbouring suicidal thoughts and did not engage in unpredictable actions during the time he was warded.

The construction worker was also described by a hospital staff member who cared for him as a pleasant patient and someone who did not exhibit behavioural problems.

According to the KTPH psychiatrist, consultants who cared for Mr Alagu said that his condition was improving and that he was even on track to be transferred to a community isolation facility.

Likely for the deceased to have removed windowpane next to his hospital bed

The coroner’s court heard that it was possible that Mr Alagu had removed the windowpane beside his hospital bed and had squeezed himself through the gap on 23 April.

Police investigations found that based on DNA swabs and fingerprint lifts, the evidence on the window frame matched Mr Alagu’s DNA.

The windowpane — along with a pair of black sneakers belonging to Mr Alagu — was found by a nurse who was doing her rounds around 6.15 am.

She initially heard a thud from his cubicle, after which she discovered that he was not in his bed. She notified her colleague and carried out a search for Mr Alagu but did not find him.

Mr Alagu’s handphone was found on his bed after attempts were made to contact him.

A senior patient relation associate who was notified of Mr Alagu going missing found him lying motionless at the open-air staircase landing, still in his hospital gown.

Attempts to revive Mr Alagu failed, and he was pronounced dead at around 7.30 am.

It was believed that he fell from the seventh floor to the third floor where he was found, according to an investigation officer who handled the case.

While Mr Alagu had shared his apprehensions regarding his financial future and his children in India, he reportedly did not have any apparent problems with his employment and did not complain to his colleagues or his next of kin.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement previously said that he had been working for the same employer since September 2009.

MOM noted that findings from background checks “do not reveal any complaints against the employer”.

The deceased, said MOM, lived in “a factory-converted dormitory operated by the employer” which housed nine workers including him at the time — fewer than the approved capacity for factory-converted dormitories.

“The dormitory was found to be in an acceptable condition, including cleanliness and ventilation,” MOM added.

MOM said that it is also “working with the Hindu Endowments Board to undertake the necessary funeral arrangements for the deceased worker”.

“We are also working with the Migrant Workers’ Centre to provide support to the family of the deceased,” the Ministry added.

Mr Alagu’s nephew, Veerappan Meenakshi Sundaram, made a request during today’s hearing for his uncle’s handphone to be returned and for his death certificate to be sent back to India.

“The deceased had three children, the eldest studying Class 2 in Indian standard, second child in Class 7, and the youngest has yet to be admitted to school. The death certificate would also be helpful when it comes to insurance applications and claims,” Mr Veerappan told the court through an interpreter.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam revealed that findings into Mr Alagu’s death will be delivered tomorrow, Yahoo! News Singapore reported.

If you or someone you know are in distress, consider contacting the following helplines:

Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

Institute Of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222

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

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