“I Thought I Could Do Everything, But I Couldn’t Save My Son From Depression”

Mum Doreen Kho, haunted by a note from her son with depression who later killed himself, has vowed not to let his death be in vain

"I Thought I Could Do Everything, But I Couldn't Save My Son From Depression"

11-year-old Evan, who tragically committed suicide after suffering from depression, left behind three notebooks filled with doodles, comic strips, riddles and little stories, rendered and written in pencil. One quirky drawing has a parrot mouthing its response to the poser: What do you get when you cross a centipede with a chicken? Answer: Drumsticks for everyone. The illustrations spring from the fertile imagination of Evan, the eldest of Doreen Kho’s four children.

The 43-year-old businesswoman says her son once asked her: “Mom, do you know why I started to draw comics? Because my comics will make people smile and laugh.”

Ironically, Evan himself wrestled with depression and was often teary. The condition led him to hurl himself from the 16th floor of a condominium in central Singapore last November. His heartbroken mother says: “It’s difficult to say he’s in a better place. Not when he often told me how much he loved me and how his best place was with me, and nowhere else.”

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After much wrestling, Ms Kho, who has also been diagnosed with depression, decided to go public with her story. “I don’t want him to have died in vain. I want to justify his life, it was too short.

“I want people to be aware of depression, which is still a stigma. I want them to know it is nothing to be ashamed of because depression is as much an illness as cancer… I hope by talking about Evan’s death, more people can be saved.” Her voice turns soft as she adds: “I’ve always thought I can do everything but I couldn’t save my son.”