Suicides drive residents to appease estate's spirits

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am

Anxious residents of a public estate in Tuen Mun took part in a Taoist spirit-cleansing ceremony last night in response to a spate of suicides on the estate.

A makeshift altar was set up in an open area outside the Islamic Primary School at Yau Oi Estate to allow residents to conduct the ritual of giving pure offerings for security.

A fortnight ago - on the day of the Hungry Ghost Festival - a 55-year-old woman suffering from depression leapt to her death from Oi Man House on the estate. She was dressed in red and was said to have posted a threatening letter to estate officials.

On Wednesday, another woman took her life in a similar fashion at the same block, making it the fifth suicide reported at the estate this year.

Last night, residents, mostly women, silently burned joss-sticks and paper money while Taoist masters led a ceremony to help appease the spirits. They also went around the estate reciting prayers.

Tuen Mun District Council member Cheung Yuet-nan, who helped to organise the Taoist service, said that, while the ritual might ease the anxiety of residents, long-term and practical solutions to create a more harmonious and less stressful environment had to be found.