Singapore—On the evening of Sept 28, a resident of a Bedok North flat noticed a foul stench coming off from one of the units. He called the police who looked to investigate. Police then discovered the body of an old man decaying amidst massive piles of garbage.
Officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) forced open the flat in question. The officers were greeted by piles of junk lining the walls and scattered on the floor of the unit on the 12th storey in Block 519 Bedok North Avenue 1.
The 68-year-old man was found motionless on the floor surrounded by the rubbish he had accumulated over the years from his hoarding habit. Old newspapers, magazines, plastic toys, and umbrellas were among the trash stuffed in plastic bags all over the unit.
Paramedics pronounced the yet unnamed man dead on the scene, and police classified his demise as an “unnatural death.”
Neighbours said the man used to live with his wife and two children. However, his family moved out several years ago and left him because of his hoarding habits. He had reportedly been living in the flat for the past 40 years.
The man lived alone and kept to himself until he died.
Another resident noted that the man would leave his flat three times a week only to come back late at night bringing several plastic bags full of garbage.
In a report by The Straits Times, an elderly woman who lived one floor below also said that the man “lost a lot of weight and looked quite sick” the last time she saw him.
A hoarding disorder is now is classified as a pathology similar to obsessive-compulsive disorders. Hoarding may be a symptom of other psychiatric conditions and emotional problems as well.
Hoarding cases can be reported to the Housing and Development Board (HDB), town councils, and the SCDF. The SCDF can only intervene if the hoarding is deemed a hazard to the community.
Family and neighbours may refer persons with hoarding habits for medical evaluation and continue to provide community and social support. -/TISG