SINGAPORE — A Japanese woman who was found dead with her son at a forested area in Bukit Batok last year had strangled her son to death before committing suicide.
A coroner’s court found that Nami Ogata, 41, had suffered from major depressive disorder and that her elder son, 5, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, was a source of concern and stress for her.
“Madam Nami had reported to the doctors that she was unable to cope with work and caring for her two children,” said State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam in findings made available to the media on Monday (19 October).
The SC further noted in her suicide notes that medications prescribed to her were not helping and she continued to feel anxious in addition to lack of sleep.
“In her suicide notes, Madam Nami expressed a clear intent to end her life and that of (her son). After penning her thoughts, she proceeded to act on them,” said the SC.
The woman made preparations to carry out a series of acts on 14 November 2019, penning two suicide notes in Japanese, one of which directed her husband to care for her younger son.
Nami and her older son were last seen alive by their domestic helper a day before the tragedy, at around 9pm. After she woke the next morning, the maid found them missing from home. Nami had sent the domestic helper a message stating that she had brought her son to the hospital, so the helper just continued with her chores.
A forensic analysis found that the raffia ligature and an elastic band seized from Nami’s residence was used on her son. She had likely applied the ligature on her son in the living room then left the unit with her son covered by a white blanket. She then drove to the secluded area where she abandoned the car with her son inside.
CCTV footage captured Nami driving from the condominium at about 5.39am and arriving at Lorong Sesuai at about 5.52am. No other vehicles were seen along that same stretch of road.
She then walked into the forest area where she committed suicide. Nami’s body was found with self-inflicted, fatal stab wounds to her chest, with a bloodied kitchen knife nearby. The bodies were found by an auxiliary police officer who noticed the car while on duty at a security guard post at Bukit Batok Transmission Station, which is located along Lorong Sesuai. He called the police after the boy at the back seat of the car did not respond to his knock.
“Based on the evidence led, I find Madam Nami death to be a deliberate act of suicide and (her son’s) death to be an unlawful killing at the hands of his mother, Nami Ogata,” said the SC.
Nami’s husband said that he last spoke to his wife on 10 November 2019. He had left for China on 30 October 2019 on a business trip and everything appeared normal. He would speak to his wife over the phone while overseas.
The SC said that the husband had not sensed anything unusual during the phone conversation.
“Mr Ogata stated that Madam Nami loves their children and had never been violent with them. He had a normal relationship with Madam Nami although he was busy with work and would often return home at about 10pm,” noted the SC.
Ogata was unsure why Nami had committed suicide. When he returned to Singapore, he found a letter from the Singapore General Hospital which stated that Nami was suffering from depression and had felt sad that her son had ADHD and autism and was doing poorly in school.
Nami had addressed one of two suicide notes to her husband, saying that she was depressed and taking her son with her. She stated that she could not take her illnesses and feared that no one would care for her children if she collapsed. Apologising for her actions, she left specific instructions for her younger son’s development and care.
The other suicide note was addressed to her brother in Japan, whom she pleaded to take her younger son into custody and raise with his own children. She informed him of the financial arrangements she had made for her younger son’s future expenses.
Nami was seen by a doctor three days before the killing where she had low mood and reported feeling depressed for the past year. She was deemed to be at low risk and was discharged with medication for insomnia and a memo to her private psychiatrist who was to review her the next day.
A report from this psychiatrist noted that Nami had seen him for low mood and poor sleep on 12 November. Nami’s weight had also dropped by about 8kg.
Besides being unable to sleep despite taking sleeping pills. Nami had poor appetite and motivation to work, shortness of breath and was restless. She did not seem suicidal then and her psychiatrist diagnosed her with major depressive disorder. She was prescribed antidepressants, sleep and anxiety medication amongst other medicines.
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