She tries to commit suicide 6 times in 1 month

Jail her.

That's what one father is saying after his daughter allegedly tried to kill herself several more times this month.

And this after she had been sentenced to a year's probation for attempting suicide 10 times over a nine-month period.

But after her latest efforts to end her life, he wants his daughter jailed as he feels that it is the only way to keep her alive.

Last month, The New Paper reported on James, 58, and his 18-year-old daughter,Mandy (not their real names).

We are not giving their real names to protect her identity.

Mandy was sentenced in a district court after being convicted of 10 charges of attempted suicide between last August and May this year.

The condition of her sentence is that she continues to seek treatment at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and comply with the psychiatrist's instructions.

The court heard that Mandy suffers from mental retardation and personality disorder.

Then, James had told TNP that he was in a dilemma as to how to deal with his daughter - bring her home and risk having her try to kill herself again, or have her jailed where she would be monitored.

Mandy has an elder brother studying in a local university. Her mother works as a dish collector in a foodcourt.

James told TNP that he is the closest to his daughter.

Mandy's brother and mother declined to comment on her suicidal condition.

On Thursday night, a frantic-sounding and exasperated James told TNP that Mandy was allegedly at it again.

The lorry driver said she had allegedly tried to kill herself another six times this month, forcing him to call the cops on her.

He said: "I feel so helpless. The doctors (at IMH) said she is not mad, so she cannot stay in the hospital.

"The judge was so kind to give her a chance and let her come home with me, but home is not safe for her."

A police spokesman confirmed that Mandy was arrested on Thursday night.

Mandy has been warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and is currently in police custody.

Into a trance

Into a trance

James said he and Mandy had dinner at a coffee shop near their home in Toa Payoh.

When Mandy got home, she allegedly took two bamboo poles from the kitchen and went into a trance, James told TNP.

He said in Mandarin: "I begged her to calm down. I told her that daddy is very tired after going through this with her over and over again for the past four years. I told her how much I love her.

"I reminded her that she had promised the judge that she would be able to get a hold herself and stop hurting herself. I reminded her that she had made plans to meet her friend the next day.

"But she did not seem to hear what I was saying. After a while, she threw the bamboo poles on the floor and broke down."

Sensing that she wanted to be alone, James left their three-room HDB flat and went to a coffee shop nearby.

But he felt uneasy and decided to call the police for help.

When he returned home with the police, he found Mandy sitting on the floor in the kitchen.

Police took his daughter away that night.

He said it was the sixth time that Mandy had tried to kill herself after her sentence on Aug 30.

Her first attempt was just three days after she returned home, James recalled.

He claimed that on Sept 2, Mandy went into a trance holding two bamboo poles and later broke a drinking glass and hurt herself repeatedly.

He said: "I was shaken when I saw the pool of blood in our living room. I locked myself and her inside the flat as I was afraid that she might dash out (and do something foolish).

When James' wife and son came home at about 11.30pm that night, James said they called the police and Mandy was arrested.

James said Mandy was sent to IMH the following day and she was discharged the next day.

Found at police post

Found at police post

After she left IMH, she went to Toa Payoh Central to meet a friend, James recalled.

He claimed that later that night, his daughter called to tell him that she was drunk.

James said he rushed down to look for her and found her lying on the ground in front of a neighbourhood police post.

Said James: "She was arrested as she had told the police that she was going to die."

He said that on Sept 5, she was again sent to IMH and discharged the same day.

That night, she got home and allegedly hurt herself again.

She was sent to TTSH that night.

James said that on Sept 7, she was discharged from the hospital at 6.30pm.

When she got home, she allegedly hurt herself again and was re-admitted to the hospital.

James said that on Sept 8, Mandy was transferred from TTSH to IMH.

She was allowed to be discharged two days later, but James decided to keep her at IMH.

"The nurses at IMH told me that sometimes my daughter would also create a din in the ward. When that happens, they would give her an injection to calm her down and restrain her to her bed," said James, who knew that he could not keep his daughter there for long.

No choice

No choice

He said that on Sept 14, an IMH employee called him to say a nurse would send his daughter home if he didn't pick her up.

He said he had no choice but to fetch her home.

James claimed that two days later, Mandy allegedly swallowed 40 pills and was sent to TTSH.

On Thursday, she was again transferred to IMH and discharged the same day.

Breaking down several times during the interview, James said: "I am at my wits' end. I am so scared to fetch her home. I come home from work everyday worrying that I would find her body at the foot of my block or at home.

"Her medical bills are piling up and I need to work to support my family. My son is still studying in university and my wife doesn't earn very much as a dish collector in a food court.

"There is nobody who can look after her at home."

James said IMH doctors told him she suffers from a personality problem, but he doesn't know how he can help her with that.

He added: "I wish somebody can help me. I don't know how long I can do this."

James said he doesn't know why Mandy can't be warded at IMH when it is clear to him that she is unwell.

He added: "If she is normal, why did she hurt herself so many times? A normal person would not hurt herself for no reason. A normal person would be afraid to be arrested or stay in a mental hospital.

"Please take her. Only when she is in jail, she can't kill herself. I am willing to do anything for my daughter to keep her alive."

Patients are closely monitored: IMH

Patients are closely monitored: IMH

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) could not comment directly on Mandy's case due to patient confidentiality.

But an IMH spokesman said most of their patients with mental illness are motivated to get well so they can integrate into the community again.

The spokesman said: "There is a very small percentage of extreme cases where these patients present repetitive behavioural problems, causing problems to their families, communities and other hospitals with their repeated threats to harm self and others."

All patients discharged from IMH would be followed up by a ward team and supported by a case manager for up to three months.

Case managers would call to check if the patients are adjusting well at home and remind them to go for appointments at the specialist outpatient clinic.

Mandy's father, James, said no one from IMH had called to check on his daughter after she was discharged.

"Maybe because she does not stay home long enough for them to call. She would be back at the police station or hospital soon after she was discharged," he said.

The IMH spokesman said patients requiring more help - if they are non-compliant to medication and doctors' appointments, for example - will be referred to IMH's community mental health team, who will visit the patients at home.

These patients will be closely monitored until they are well enough to manage their own condition.

Involve police when...

Involve police when...

For those who pose immediate harm to themselves and others, IMH said members of the public should alert the police.

The spokesman added that the police would take the person suspected to be suffering from mental illness to IMH for a psychiatric assessment, if necessary.

She said that as the only tertiary psychiatric institution in Singapore, IMH would handle the most difficult psychiatric cases.

She said there was no data available on what percentage of suicidal patients at IMH have previous convictions for attempted suicide.

She added: "While IMH treats the psychiatric condition of such patients, repeated harmful behaviour imposing significant risks to self or others should also involve active management from the legal side such as the court, the police and even the prison system."

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) deputy director Tan-Lee Yoke Yin said research has shown that people who attempt suicide are at higher risk of doing it again.

She added: "Professional psychological help or psychiatric treatment is important for people who carry out suicide attempts many times.

"People around the suicide attempter can be accepting, understanding, patient and gentle. Keeping the lines of communication open is vital."

She added that the challenges faced by caregivers vary - some may feel stressed, helpless, and that others might not understand a loved one's suicide attempts.

Mrs Tan-Lee said: "We encourage caregivers to take care of themselves by seeking some support for themselves in the form of a listening ear, a friend, or hobbies and activities.

"Ask for help from family, supportive friends, and community resources." She added that caregivers can approach family service centres, mental health agencies or contact SOS for emotional support if they are affected by the suicide attempts of their loved ones.

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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