Soldier found dead at Sembawang Camp shot himself: Coroner

Soldier found dead at Sembawang Camp shot himself: Coroner
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - First, his parents divorced.

Then, he couldn't get along with his stepmother, to the extent he felt like killing her.

Later on, he fell out with his close friends and was alone as his misery deepened.

With a history of depression and suicidal tendencies, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular, Pravinraj Selvaraj, 20, shot himself in the head while on guard duty at Sembawang Camp on Nov 21, 2015.

At the Coroner's Inquiry into his death yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled Pravinraj's death as a deliberate act of suicide.

Court documents said Specialist Cadet Trainee (SCT) Pravinraj was performing guard duty at the camp with a partner, SCT Tan Jing Rong, that day at 7.30am.

Each man was armed with an SAR 21 assault rifle and five live rounds.

At 2.30pm, while on patrol with his partner, SCT Pravinraj entered a toilet.

About 10 minutes later, SCT Tan checked on SCT Pravinraj, who said he needed more time.

About three minutes later, SCT Tan heard a loud explosion and rushed into the toilet shouting SCT Pravinraj's name.

He saw bloodstains on the ceiling and alerted his superior.

The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived at about 3pm and found SCT Pravinraj slumped in the cubicle with head injuries. Two spent rounds were found and the weapon was in "auto" firing mode.

A handwritten note was found between his legs saying there was a message on his cellphone in the guardroom.

The police found the phone and a suicide note in it.

SCT Pravinraj wrote he didn't want his family involved after his death as they had abandoned him when he was 15 and he had been in pain for five years because he was all alone.

A picture of five rounds had been sent to five people via WhatsApp just two hours before his death.

He gave instructions for his belongings to be given to his best friend and also told his girlfriend he loved her a lot.

SCT Pravinraj, who had two younger brothers, had been going to the Institute of Mental Health since 2011 when he was 16.

He had also been arrested by the police once for attempted suicide.

He reported feeling stressed and frustrated by his parents' divorce and slept at staircases as he had a strained relationship with his family.

Court documents said his mother had left the family when he was 11 and had lost touch with him after divorcing his father in 2005.

She said her son had told her he couldn't get along with his stepmother and had felt like killing her.

She told investigators her son had yearned for family affection but did not get it from her or his father.

andrey@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 20, 2017.
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HELPLINES
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-2214444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-2837019
Sage Counselling Centre: 1800-5555555
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling: 1800-3535800

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