Date
15 December 2018
Police suspect physical ailments and depression led an elderly couple to take their own lives by inhaling toxic charcoal fumes. Photo: HKEJ
Police suspect physical ailments and depression led an elderly couple to take their own lives by inhaling toxic charcoal fumes. Photo: HKEJ

Elderly couple found dead in suspected charcoal-burning suicide

An elderly man and his wife were found dead in their home in northwestern New Territories on Monday, in what the police suspect was a case of charcoal-burning suicide.

The couple, suffering from physical ailments and depression for many years, locked themselves in their flat and took their lives by inhaling toxic charcoal fumes, authorities believe.

The tragic incident happened at a unit in Yan Lok House building in Tin Yan Estate, a public rental housing complex in Tin Shui Wai.

According to Apple Daily, the man, 75, was a wheelchair-bound handicapped person who had been living with his 87-year-old wife, after their children had moved out after getting married.

Sometime after 1 pm on Monday, one of their five children — a 59-year-old daughter — came to the flat to visit her parents.

Knocking on the door, she received no response, prompting her to get alarmed. Adding to her worry, there was a smell wafting from the apartment.

Suspecting that something was amiss about her aged parents, she called the police.

Arriving at the scene, police and firemen broke into the flat, only to see the elderly man lying unconscious in his wheelchair in the kitchen, and his wife also motionless in a bedroom. They were both certified dead at the scene. 

A tray of burnt charcoal was found in the living room, prompting the officers to believe that it was a case of joint suicide. There was, however, no suicide note.

The case was listed as a suicide pact.

A post-mortem is expected to be conducted to officially determine the cause of their death. A team from the Yuen Long police district is following up on the case.

According to reports, the dead elderly lady had been suffering from depression for more than a decade and had told her children that she wanted to die.

The couple’s son said they looked normal when he visited them on Sunday.

EJ Insight supports efforts to help people deal with depression and related issues. Here is the 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention hotline of The Samaritans: +852 2896 0000 (or email [email protected]).

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/JC/RC

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