Friday, July 22, 2011

The BENG Suicide: Understanding the Y

The grand old master of cari pasal dah bukak mulut
The DAP parliamentary leader said any layman would agree that being forced to commit suicide by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers was not the same as suicide but was “equal to homicide”.

You cannot have a situation it’s not homicide but (rather) forced to commit suicide,” he told The Malaysian Insider. Source here

Before I begin today, allow me to re-offer my condolences to the Family of Teo Beng Hock, hope that one day you will find closure to the matter and I sincerely hope that those responsible will kena kau kau with all the legal might that the Government can do within the confines of the law.

The family have responded
ALOR GAJAH: The family of the late Teoh Beng Hock has refused to accept the Royal Commission of Inquiry's (RCI) findings that the political aide had committed suicide.

Teoh's mother Teng Shuw Hor, 58, insisted her son was murdered.

I will not accept that my son would take his own life.

My son was murdered,” she said when met at the family home at Taman Seri Kelemak here yesterday. source here

Very much expected don't you think?

I would say the same.
Barrett &Scott (1990) identified four types of reactions which suicide survivors experience. 
  • Grief reactions that are the normal result of losing a family member, including somatic symptoms, hopelessness, anger, guilt, loss of social support, and selfdestructive behaviour which supports the Calhoun et al. study (1982).
  •  In addition, reactions that resulted from experiencing a death other than by natural causes and perceived as having been avoidable, including feeling stigmatised and shamed by the death, feeling abandoned by the spouse, and perceiving the death as preventable.
  •  A third type of reaction included grief reactions that resulted from the shock and pain of experiencing a sudden death, regardless of its cause, including searching for an acceptable explanation for the death.
  • Finally, the fourth type of reaction seems to have resulted from additional trauma of dealing with the suicidal nature of the death, including feeling rejected by the deceased, feeling embarrassment over the mode of the death, wondering about the spouse's motivation for not living longer, feeling as if the deceased were somehow getting even with the survivor by dying, and concealing the mode of death by saying that it was something other than what it was Source here

But is TBH a statistical anomaly?

MACC's Advisory Board Advisor Tan Sri Simon says he does not fit the profile

"I am just not convinced that Teoh would commit suicide simply because of aggressive interrogations by MACC officers. There is no credible reason or motive why he would take his own life. He was a young man about to get married. He has every reason to stay alive. He did not do anything wrong. When a person is innocent, his will to live is stronger and also to prove his innocence," he said. Source here
Simon says what?

You'll be hearing more of such similar arguments from every tom, dick and harry out there who feels that their opinion matters to the issue at hand...

Let us look at the National Statistics on Suicide shall we...

This inference is drawn from analysis of data from suicidal cases from the University Malaya Medical Centre mortuary. This study also looked at sex, age, social, and employment factors. Kuala Lumpur has sizeable populations of Muslims, Chinese, Indians and Indonesian, etc. This study is based on 251 cases of suicide that were reported at the University Malaya Medical Centre from 2000 to 2004. Malaysia has a population of 22,662,365 people with 3 major ethnic groups: Malay (58%), Chinese (24%), and Indians (8%) with a minority of "others" (10%), which includes foreigners, Sabahan, and Sarawakian. This research found suicides of 164 male (65%) and 87 female (35%) victims. Their age ranged from 15 to 80 years. The age group from 21 to 30 had the highest total cases of suicide (83 of 251; 33.1%). Among ethnic groups highest rate of suicide was among Chinese with a total of 120 cases (120 of 251; 47.8%). As far as lone method of suicide is concerned, hangings accounted for the highest proportion of cases (108 of 251; 43%). Among ethnic groups, jumping from height was the commonest method used by Chinese (49 of 120; 41%), Malay (9 of 16; 56%), and others (15 of 28; 53.4%); whereas, hanging was the commonest method of committing suicide by Indians (49 of 87); Muslims showed the lowest cases of suicide (18 of 251; 7.2%). In poisoning group Indian was the highest ethnic group who used this method (20 of 37; 54.1%). Source Suicide and ethnicity in Malaysia

That was 2000- 2004 data, let us see how things have changed over the years...refer here for 2008 Report

X80: Jumping from a High Place
X70: Hanging, Strangulation and Suffocation
X68: By exposure to pesticides 

As can be seen Jumping from a High Place is the Second Most Common Method by the Chinese.

So is a Random Chinese Male in his 30's runs a higher risk of Jumping off A building if he actually wants to take his own life?

A lot of other variables are involved in this complex and hard to understand topic simply because the person is dead and not available for a post suicide interview. The living are left with what ever trace of historical activities prior to the event.

One particular item one must look at is the Life Events.....

The RCI report cited some events that lead to Teoh's Suicide
Political aide Teoh Beng Hock was driven to commit suicide by “aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation” by several Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report concluded.

In the report that was released to the public yesterday, it said unlawful intimidatory tactics used by certain MACC officers during the interrogation process “would have had grave consequences upon Teoh's mind and would have been a culminating factor that drove him to suicide.”

It said Teoh had been deprived of sleep throughout that night and into the morning.

The report said Teoh, known to be hardworking, diligent, responsible, devoted to his family, loved children and was faithful to his boss Ean Yong, had shifted from low-risk to high-risk for suicide when he was taken in by Mohd Anuar to the Selangor MACC office for investigation.

It said Teoh was cut off from the outside world when he was not allowed to see Ean Yong and his lawyer M. Manoharan.

Taking away Teoh's mobile phone, which he often found companionship in and used to relieve stress, would have meant robbing him of his means to reality and sanity, the report said.

“Thus, for the first time in his life, Teoh found himself totally and completely isolated from the outside world and thrust into desolation,” it said.

The report said another factor which had serious implications on Teoh was surrendering his laptop to MACC officers and being forced to divulge the password to his e-mail account.

“As this held the key to many things private, Teoh must have felt that his privacy was violated under duress and the secrets of his life were in the open.

“This was a gross violation of Teoh's personal right, which would have compounded his anxiety and worry,” it said. Source here
And here the Bahasa Version which cited more life events 
Setelah diseksa dengan kesukaran ini, Teoh mengalami perubahan pada keadaan mindanya. Dalam beberapa jam, perubahan ini mengubahnya daripada berada dalam kumpulan berisiko rendah untuk membunuh diri kepada kumpulan berisiko tinggi.

“Keraguan, konflik emosi yang keterlaluan, rasa bersalah yang mendalam semuanya tidak dapat diubah yang ditanggungnya. Akhirnya faktor pencetus krisis tidak dapat diubah yang berlaku kepadanya antara 3.30 pagi dengan 7 pagi pada 16 Julai 2009 telah menyebabkan keadaannya bertambah parah.

Apabila dia tidak menemui strategi yang berkesan untuk mengatasi tuduhan-tuduhan yang dilontarkan kepadanya, dia mendapati dirinya tidak dapat keluar lagi dari keadaan dahsyat yang membelenggunya.

“Apabila dia putus harapan, Teoh berasa terjebak dan tewas kepada kekecewaan. Disebabkan tingkap di tingkat 14 telah terbuka ataupun mudah dibuka, dan ia adalah jelas dan boleh diakses dari sofa di mana dia berada di luar bilik Nadzri (Penolong Kanan Penguasa SPRM Selangor, Mohd Nadzri Ibrahim), Teoh mendapati bahawa satu-satunya cara untuk melepaskan dirinya daripada kesengsaraan yang dilaluinya adalah dengan melompat keluar dari tingkap itu, biarpun ini bermakna mengambil nyawanya sendiri,” kata lima anggota suruhanjaya sebulat suara di dalam laporan setebal 124 muka surat.

Dalam laporan suruhanjaya itu, Dr Badi’ah dan Dr Nor Hayati menjelaskan bahawa sepanjang beberapa minggu sebelum Teoh disoal oleh SPRM, Teoh perlu berhadapan dan berurusan dengan dua kejadian yang boleh meninggalkan kesan dalam kehidupan yang mungkin menambah tekanan kepada kehidupannya.

Perkara tersebut ialah tarikh pernikahannya yang dibawa ke hadapan dari tarikh asal yang ditetapkan dalam 2010 ke 13 Oktober 2009 setelah mengetahui tunangnya mengandung dan pengumpulan dokumen oleh SPRM Selangor daripada Pejabat Daerah dan Pejabat Tanah yang membayangkan bahawa ketuanya Ean tidak mengendalikan peruntukan dengan betul.

Menurut Dr Badi’ah dan Dr Nor Hayati, keadaan tersebut boleh mengubah tabiat dan tingkah laku Teoh serta berkemungkinan dianggap oleh Teoh sebagai situasi yang berpotensi menimbulkan ancaman.

“Tingkap dari mana Teoh Beng Hock jatuh menunjukkan suatu kaedah yang jelas dan mudah diakses. Bahawa terdapat suatu tingkap yang besar yang mudah dibuka di tingkat 14 mana-mana pejabat, apatah lagi pusat soal siasat yang pada saya merupakan sesuatu yang luar biasa,” katanya.

Suruhanjaya juga berpendapat dari segi psikologi Teoh, walaupun pernikahan dan persediaan baginya merupakan peristiwa hidup yang positif bagi Teoh, namun ia boleh juga membawa tekanan kepadanya dan berkemungkinan menjadi teruk apabila ditambah kepada peristiwa hidup negatif. Source here
Sufficient events to push him towards suicide?

I don't know

The RCI excluded the "alleged" suicide note....

欧阳 Ouyang,

1. 他们 在没有复制我的电脑文件下取走了所有电脑。矛头一直指向你。
They didn’t duplicate the computer files (but) seized all the computers (instead). Without end, fingers point at you.

2. 对不起。[xxxxx]
Sorry. [writing deleted]

3. 不懂装懂,结果连累了你。
Feigning not to understand (although) I do, (but) in the end, you are (still) implicated.

4. 我说,mendapat lulusan YB。他们硬打成mengikut arahan YB。
I said, ‘received approval from YB’. (Yet) they insist on putting down, ‘followed YB’s orders’.

5. 我帮不到你,抱歉。
I can’t help you (anymore), forgive (me).

6. 对不起,我很累了,再见。
Sorry, I’m so tired. See (you) again
Blogger ShuZeng dived deep into the text to capture the thinking process embedded in the writter

If it is true that Zhao died over a friend and colleague, then MACC is directly responsible for his death. After which the question left to be answered at the inquest is, not who did it but how death came to be. Was he driven to it or thrown out the window?

In the short draft, about 70 character-words in length, the writer apologized to Ouyang thrice, in between using the expression 抱歉 baoqian as opposed to 对不起 duibuqi, sorry, that was used twice. Baoqian bears a quality of deep personal angst, and it is this feeling of torment that surfaces from the original text.

Twice, also, the draft showed how the MACC was cruel: when seizing the computers and in willfully misrepresenting and distorting the writer’s evidence given in a statement. Here, then, was not just an abuse of authority but plain oppression.

Here, too, in the letter, was a test of individual virtue, so blatantly Chinese – and the writer suffered deeply in his thought that he had failed miserably against a friend. It was virtue against vileness which happened to be represented by Malays, unfortunately. It is unfortunate because, whoever sat on the other side of the interrogation room is ultimately inconsequential. Source here
Let us now go deeper into Suicides...

Emminent Sociologist Emile Durkheim in Les Suicides came up with 4 different category

Durkheim believed a society had to accomplish two major functions to be successful

  • Integration is the degree to which collective sentiments (knowledge, beliefs, values) are shared by members is society. The opposite of Social Integration is Isolation in a society
  • Regulation is the degree of external constraint on people, i.e. the common norms people live under
Regulation vs Lack of Regulation in a society

  • The widespread failure of Integration or Regulation in society yields societal collapse
  • The occasional failure of Integration or Regulation in society yields an increased rate of suicide

Durkheim's Four Types of suicide
1. Altruistic Suicide is correlated w/ High Integration into society
When social integration is too strong, the individual is literally forced into committing suicide. Hero suicide occurs when a parent dies while pushing their child out of the way of a car. Altruistic suicide springs from hope, for it depends on the belief in the beautiful afterlife: death is a deliverance

Non-extreme examples

  • soldier jumping on grenade or charging hill
  • policeman dying in line of duty
  • parent pushing child from path of car
Extreme Examples:
  • Kamikazes
  • Muslim bombers
  • 1996: men emolating (burning) themselves to protest: Miss World pageant in India.
  • The followers of Reverend Jim Jones at the People's Temple in Jonestown, Guyana.

2. Fatalistic Suicide: High Regulation by society
Persons w/ pitilessly blocked opportunities; passions, violently choked by oppressive discipline
Fatalistic suicide was little mentioned by Durkheim

  • slaves
  • prisoners
  • overworked college students
  • American middle class working men
  • American middle class house wives

3. Egoistic suicide: Low Integration into society
Individual experiences a sense of meaninglessness. Found in societies where individuals are not well integrated into the society. Personal feeling/emotion: Sense of meaninglessness, depression. Stems from the social currents of incurable weariness; sad depression


  • Lone Wolf Suicide: You have nothing: The Stranger
  • School Age killer/suicides: I have no friends; I am left out of everything
  • Star Egoistic Suicide: Many stars die of egoistic suicide (Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain of Nirvanna)

4. Anomic suicide: Low Regulation by society
Anomie: experience where Culture ( common knowledge, beliefs, values, norms ) does not exist ;/or has become ineffective ( for Durkheim, Culture may be thought of as the collective unconscious )

In comparing Anomie to Alienation, Alienation is the separation or isolation from existing culture whereas Anomie is the condition where there is no culture, i.e., no culture to be separated from

Societal disintegration leads to currents of depression; disillusionment. The moral disintegration of society predisposes the individual to commit suicide, but the currents of depression must be there to produce differences in rates of anomic suicide. But even though social forces may be weak, an individual is never totally free of the collectivity Disruptions in regulative powers of society leaves people dissatisfied because they have little control over their passions

Examples of anomic suicide

  • I am so weak, I have nothing left to lose
  • Suicide from great loss (lay-off)
  • Bum: I can do whatever I want because no one can hurt me
  • Social or natural crises reduce regulation; people feel they have nothing left to lose, no reason to live

Periods of disruption unleash currents of anomie, moods of restlessness; normlessness

Rates of anomic suicide may rise w/ almost any social crises such as a storm, a war, an economic boom, an economic depression, etc. Individuals experience the sensation ( usually felt as fear or anxiety ) that society is breaking down Source here 

Which category could we put Teoh's suicide into?

From what we have read so far, Teoh was a great guy who had everything going for him up till the MACC came up knocking on his doors......

Suddenly these life events began creeping up on him that lead him to jump of that window...

Was he Altruistic in nature to cover up for a friend? Or did he felt Anomic with the impending collapse of everything he had built all these years?

He knew for a fact that his act of jumping will most likely result in him dying.....or was he hoping to survive the fall?

Hence, suicidal behavior need not result in death, nor must the condition that hastens death be self-caused. It follows, therefore that, first, a correct account of suicide (contra Durkheim 1897) must emphasize the non-accidental relationship between suicidal behavior and death (i.e., death is in some respect the aim of suicidal behavior). Second, what appears essential for a behavior to count as suicide is that the person in question chooses to die. Suicide is an attempt to inflict death upon oneself and is “intentional rather than consequential in nature.” (Fairbairn 1995, 58) These conclusions imply that suicide must rest upon an individual's intentions (where an intention implicates an individual's beliefs and desires about her action. (See Brandt 1975, Tolhurst 1983, Frey 1978, O'Keefee 1981, McMahan 2002, 455) One intention-based account of suicide (similar to Graber 1981, 57) would say, roughly, that
 A person S's behavior B is suicidal iff
  • S believed that B, or some causal consequence of B, would make her death at least highly likely, and
  • S intended to die by engaging in B.
This account renders the notion of suicide as self-inflicted attempted death more precise, but it is not without its shortcomings.

Some (e.g., Beauchamp 1992) might wish to add a further condition to (a) and (b) above:

S was not coerced into B-ing.

Yet again, both the concept of coercion and its applicability to instances of risky or self-harming behavior is unclear. Typically, coercion denotes interference by others. So, according to condition (c), a spy threatened with torture lest he relinquish crucial military secrets who then poisons himself did not commit suicide, some would contend, since the spy's captors compelled him to take his life. However, one can imagine a similar situation in which the agent of “coercion” is not another person. An extremely ill patient may opt to take his own life rather than face a future fraught with physical pain. But why should we not say that this patient was coerced by his situation and therefore did not commit suicide? Because of their desires, loyalties, and values, both the spy and the ill patient saw themselves as having no other alternative, given their ends, but to cause their own deaths. In both instances, the economy of the individuals' reasons for actions was modified by circumstances outside their control so as to make death a rational option where it previously was not. Thus, there does not appear to be grounds for restricting coercion only to interference by other people, since factual circumstances can be similarly coercive. Either any factor, natural, human, or otherwise, that influences an individual's reasoning so as to make death the most rational option counts as coercion, at which point condition (c) hardly functions as a restriction at all, or cases such as the spy facing torture are suicides too and (c) is unnecessary. (See Tolhurst 1983, 113–115) Source here
So how did Teoh came to a point that there is no other alternatives besides jumping out the window?

He was the witness wasn't he?

How could the “aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation” push him to that point?

The answer lies in the potential scenario if he is still alive, what case can MACC put forward?

And what would happen to him if he becomes state witness against his party and his boss.

Which brings us back to FORCE SUICIDE = HOMICIDE

He wasn't FORCED....

The situation lead him to it.....(if he did commit suicide)

Forced Suicide is something else altogether as an example Sati, normally practised by the Hindu Widows who jumps into the burning flames of dead husbands

Anyway folks, I sincerely think that With or without the RCI


To the family of Teoh Beng Hock your response is predictable....but the Nation needs closure....

A common tendency among survivors of suicide is to blame or scapegoat someone for the suicide. This reaction often arises from a survivor's sense of helplessness and guilt about not preventing the suicide. Deeply held beliefs about suicide also contribute to this response. Some survivors deny that the suicide ever took place. This seems to be the onlyway they can handle the crisis. Often, this takes the form of insisting that the death was an accident. Source here
Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. -Lord Thomas Dewer