Cold-blooded trolls mock grieving mother

Top News | Phoebe Ng and Phoenix Un 8 Sep 2017

Online trolls hurled verbal abuse at Peter Poon's grieving mother, Christine Choi, yesterday.

And posters were put up on the notice board at the Education University of Hong Kong "congratulating" Choi on her son "going to heaven."

The president of the university slammed two students for putting up the posters, adding that a full investigation will be launched.

Mental health professionals and commentators condemned the "cold blooded comments," pleading for the public to show some empathy for Choi who had lost a son.

On social media, one troll said the son's death was "karma slapped in her face," referring to education policies they were unhappy with.

"Instant karma is a f***ing b*tch," said Facebook user Gravit Zen.

Alvin Ng said that Poon took his life due to "poor life planning" in a take on former education secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who had linked poor life planning to a worrying spate of student suicides.

Hong Kong Unison founder Fermi Wong Wai-fun, a social worker, said: "Political disagreement should not justify gloating over someone's death. "What Choi's family needs now is empathy and condolences. It is humanity and respect to others on the basic level."

Ip Kin-yuen, chief executive Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, who defeated Choi in the September 2016 Legislative Council election, said: "I call on them [trolls] to stop and recall their comments."

Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung said: "People online don't need to take responsibility for their words, thus people expose their angelic and devilish sides - and this time it's more of the devil.

"Of course, social divide played a part in it, but I believe the internet exposes this evil side in many parts of the world."

Some netizens also mocked the former education secretary Eddie Ng Hak- kim when his mother died in March and his wife died in June.

Paul Yip Siu-fai, psychiatrist and director of the University of Hong Kong Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, agreed most internet comments were inappropriate.

As for Peter Poon's death, Yip admitted it was extremely difficult to recover from traumatic accidents. "Poon had made lots of high accomplishments before, yet he was struck with the accident," Yip said.

"It was inevitable to feel frustrated that you could not do what you used to do, like you were at a trough."

He advised those suffering major life changes to try to reset more realistic goals.

Yip also warned against the impact of sensationalization of news on those living with "black dog" depression.

"Media should refrain from over- reporting suicide news," Yip said.

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