Son of deputy education chief in death leap

Top News | Phoebe Ng 8 Sep 2017

The depressed eldest son of Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin jumped to his death yesterday from the family's 41st floor apartment just minutes after his helper pulled him back from an earlier suicide bid.

Peter Poon Hong-yang, a physiotherapist and high achiever, was found dead on the 9th floor podium of the luxury Sorrento in Austin Road West next to the Kowloon Station in West Kowloon at 11.50am.

Poon, 25, was later identified as the eldest of two sons of Choi, the controversial pro-Beijing former school principal. Her son had been treated for depression after a serious accident while competing in a triathlon.

It was Poon's second suicide attempt yesterday. In the first attempt, he climbed onto a balcony and dangled his feet outside but the family's domestic helper managed to pull him back to safety.

But he later locked himself in a room before jumping out of a window.

Poon was found lying unconscious on the podium and pronounced dead on arrival at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

No suicide note was found and initial findings by police concluded the case was not suspicious.

Police confirmed Poon had a history of mental health problems.

Choi expressed her gratitude for the concern shown for her family, adding she hoped the public would give them space to get through this difficult period.

She went to the hospital at 3pm to identify her eldest son's body. She appeared tearful behind a mask and did not answer media questions.

Poon was accomplished at the piano, saxophone and endurance sports.

But his mental struggle began just over a year ago when he was seriously injured during the biking part of a triathlon and was hospitalized in intensive care.

He suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain, and had memory loss.

He had written on social media that he "could not recall" the event, but said his injuries had changed his "arrogant and ungrateful" attitude.

"I will no longer take things for granted," he had said, adding he looked forward to returning to work.

After the accident, Poon was diagnosed with depression and he had been receiving regular treatment since then.

In previous media interviews, Choi had said she and her husband tried not to pressure her two sons, who both attended local public schools.

Poon took A-Levels and graduated from the elite La Salle College, while his younger brother took part in the city's first Diploma of Secondary School exam.

Poon studied physiotherapy at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University before working as a physiotherapist in North District Hospital.

Choi, 50, and her husband, Poon Hei-yan, treated their sons as "friends" and they would go shopping together.

In a book she wrote in 2015, Choi described her eldest son as "very structured and detailed in his work."

In his Facebook profile, Poon had quoted an idiom saying: "Life is an endless battle."

He also had a college sweetheart and would frequently post pictures of the two of them together.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung expressed condolences to Choi and her family, saying: "The bureau fully supports Ms Choi and will walk with her through the tough times."

A spokeswoman for North District Hospital said it was "deeply saddened" by Poon's passing and will offer as much support as it can to his family, as well as psychological support for his co- workers.

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