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What drove him to the brink

An inquiry into the death of Mr Thirunavukarasu Sandasamy, 25, revealed that he had used his service revolver to kill himself -TNP
Shaffiq Alkhatib

Sun, Apr 07, 2013
The New Paper

SINGAPORE - In over 10 years, there have been four cases (including one this year) of Certis Cisco auxiliary police personnel dying from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

One of the cases, which took place in December 2011, was the subject of a coroner's inquiry on Thursday.

The court heard that Cisco auxiliary police officer Thirunavukarasu Sandanasamy, 25, had used his service revolver to kill himself.

So what measures are there within Certis Cisco to ensure the mental well-being of its auxiliary police officers?

Its spokesman said there is a team of 28 para-counsellors whom officers can approach for help in matters such as work stress and financial problems.

She said these para-counsellors are trained to understand suicide and are familiar with suicide assessment.

They are also trained to understand common issues related to mental disorders.

She added: "If (the) para-counsellors assess that the case is beyond their control, they are advised to send the... officer for professional counselling with Raffles Medical Group."

The spokesman also said that Certis Cisco has a stringent selection process to ensure that the people it employs are mentally fit.

She said: "All (auxiliary police officers) are interviewed by our recruiters and they have to declare their medical history before enlistment.

"We will send them to... a psychological test to determine their mental state before they commence their firearm training at (the) Certis Cisco Academy."

In Mr Thirunavukarasu's case, investigation officer Assistant Superintendant of Police (ASP) Tan Lian Heng said the reason behind the suicide was not apparent and there was no suicide note.

However, the court heard that before his death, the Malaysian could have been stressed due to various personal and work-related problems that had accumulated over time.

ASP Tan said that in April 2011, Mr Thirunavukarasu told a colleague, Ms Alamelumangai Ramakrishnan, that he had been disturbed by a "snake-like form".

Mr Thirunavukarasu, who was single, then told her that he "could not have a relationship with a woman" because of these encounters. Another colleague, Mr Prabagaran Chandrasekaran, also noticed that he looked very sad on the day he killed himself.

Concerns

Before this, Mr Thirunavukarasu had voiced his concerns to him as he felt that he did not earn enough money to send home to his family in Penang.

Mr Thirunavukarasu's parents, Mr Sandanasamy Ganapragasam and Madam Renganayagi Veloo, who were present in court on Thursday.

He had taken out a life insurance policy and the part about how legal representatives could claim the money was tagged on the booklet.

Mr Thirunavukarasu's parents, who had arrived earlier on Thursday from Penang, were seen wiping away tears during the inquiry.

They declined to view screenshots of CCTV footage taken of their son's final moments while he was walking to the toilet.

When approached outside the courtroom, Mr Sandanasamy said softly in Malay before walking away: "I'm sorry. Not now. I have a headache."

A family friend, Madam Indra Balwant, 73, said that Mr Thirunavukarasu was a "very nice person" who visited her whenever he was free.

The Singaporean retiree added that he was also a singer who performed at weddings and engagement parties on a part-time basis.

"He could sing Tamil songs very well," said Madam Indra with a sad smile.

Additional reporting by Chai Hung Yin


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