Mental checks urged after boy, 10, hangs himself

Top News | Jane Cheung 15 Oct 2018

A 10-year-old Primary Five student hanged himself with an elastic cord inside his locked room, police said, prompting experts to urge parents to closely monitor their children's mental condition.

The boy's mother called police after 7pm on Saturday, saying her son - who had Asperger Syndrome - killed himself in their home at Bayview Garden in Tsuen Wan.

She said she called a locksmith to break into his room and, after seeing her son hanging, untied the noose.

But he was certified dead after being rushed to Yan Chai Hospital.

Police did not find any suicide note and, after a preliminary investigation, the case was classified as not suspicious.

It is understood that the boy, surnamed Chung, was a student at a prestigious school in Kowloon.

Chung had satisfactory academic results, but endured frequent emotional upheavals in recent months.

Sources said Chung had threatened to commit suicide and hurt his family during mood swings, after which his parents took him to a doctor. He was subsequently diagnosed with Asperger's, which is a type of autistic disorder.

On Saturday morning, Chung's mother took him to school for an extra-curricular activity and he went home by himself after the event.

He locked himself in his room after arriving home at 5pm.

His mother returned home later but was not suspicious of anything as she was accustomed to Chung staying in his room.

However, she started becoming anxious when, at dinner time, she knocked on his door and heard no answer.

She called a locksmith to break into the room and was horrified to find her son hanging on the back of the door.

Michael Ip Sit-kei from Caritas Hong Kong said Chung could have suffered from depression triggered by social frustrations or academic issues as Asperger Syndrome patients often suffer from social phobias and act in a stubborn manner. However, unlike autism patients, children with the syndrome do not suffer from lower intelligence or language impairments, he said. Instead, they often have higher intelligence than an average person.

"Suffering from the syndrome does not indicate he had suicidal intentions, but traits of the syndrome might have led to social frustration that led him to the thought," Ip said.

"Patients usually have difficulties sustaining a normal social life, as they avoid eye contact and are unable to detect others' emotions."

He said parents should monitor their children's mental condition and, when necessary, seek help from two channels - psychiatrists in public clinics and counseling services offered by non-government organizations.

"Although the syndrome is a life-long condition that can't be completely cured, it can be improved through behavioral training," he said.

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