SINGAPORE - The father of Private Ganesh Pillay Magindren said he had been assured by medical officers that his son would be taken care of during national service.
That is why he did not ask for the 23-year-old to be exempted from serving.
Art director Renganathan Magindren told The Straits Times that his son was diagnosed as "stable" by the Defence Ministry's doctors, who also said there was a support system to take care of Pte Ganesh.
His son's supervising officer at the 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery, Captain Jessie Goh, also seemed like a "caring, obliging person", added the 54-year-old.
The two would at times text each other about how Pte Ganesh was doing, explained Mr Magindren, saying he also wanted his son to do his national duty.
"Of course I was worried about Ganesh, but I also thought it would be easier for him to find a job in the future if he has an NS certificate."
His son had seemed fine throughout his Basic Military Training and his time at the unit. So it came as a shock that Pte Ganesh decided to take his own life last July.
He was a well-behaved and ambitious boy, said Mr Magindren, who has two younger children.
He recalled how his son took an interest in drawing at a young age, and went on to study digital animation at ITE MacPherson. Pte Ganesh wanted to further his education at a polytechnic, but did not qualify.
"He was so talented, and I saw great potential in him," said Mr Magindren, who tried appealing to each polytechnic here.
The rejection came as a huge blow for Pte Ganesh, who had plans to enter university and study art.
"That was when he became withdrawn and depressed. He felt like everyone rejected him," said Mr Magindren.
Pte Ganesh eventually got a place at the LaSalle College of the Arts where he earned a diploma in animation art. But he did not get along with his peers, who were mostly international students.
It was just before his graduation that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, at the age of 20. His psychiatrist, Dr Paul Ngui, had expressed hope of recovery as the ailment had been detected early, Mr Magindren said.
But now with Pte Ganesh's sudden passing, his family is "all broken up" and grieving. Mr Magindren, who is seeing a psychiatrist now, said he has been getting support from his sister and church.
"I still cry sometimes when I think of him, but I have to take care of my family, especially my younger son who will enlist soon. I will protect him."
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
This article was published on April 12 in The Straits Times.
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