My letter to the New Paper was published today , Friday 5 march 2010 on page 29
I refer to the report, “ Man burnt at petrol station ” (The New Paper, 27 Feb).
Like many of my friends, I was both shocked and deeply saddened to read about the horrifying way in which the victim in his early 40s, described by his family to be mentally ill, set fire to himself.
Thirty years ago, an old man who lived in the same rental block where my wife and I, dislosed to my wife that his business had failed. His wife and children then left him.
My wife used to accompany him to the bank to withdraw money for his expenses and would talk to him whenever she had time.
The old man felt loved, but we don't know that he was gradually losing the will to live.
The night before he decided to end it all, he gave my wife a tin of cookies. It was his way of saying thank you to my wife for the love that she gave to him.
A few days ago, the Community Psychiatry Department of Institute of Mental Health invited my wife and I to its Chinese New Year Celebrations.
It was a fun-filled afternoon with good food and good company. What impressed me most was the love and care which the whole team showered on all the patients and caregivers who attended the event.
Sponsors and volunteers came forward and contributed towards the success of the event. They brought a beautiful smile on every one of these citizens who are struggling to cope with mental illness.
The Government for its part can set up nurse stations at community centres where a weekly breakfast can be organised to reach out the vulnerable groups like psychiatric patients and our elderly folks who are often neglected and feel uncared for.
A counsellor can provide a listening ear and secure better support for these groups. This initiative will make it easier to identify those who are at risks of falling into depression and get them all the help they need.
Let us make a concerted effort to save and reclaim lives.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO