WHEN news broke in Masai on Wednesday night that a family of five was found dead in a Proton Iswara with its ignition switched on, and foul play was ruled out, many assumed that it was a sad case of suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning.
Was the family besieged with financial difficulties? How could one not see how precious life is and what could be so bad to prompt the father, whose role is to protect his family, to end their lives?
Those were the questions which immediately came to mind.
The parents in their 30s and their children, age 4, 8 and 11, had all died such a senseless death.
At the moment of writing this, it has yet to be determined whether the family has died of suicide or whether it was a sad case of sheer ignorance.
The family could have decided to camp out in the car because the air-conditioner in their home adjacent to their car workshop had been faulty the night of their death. Police were still investigating.
Still, the thought of them possibly dying of suicide tug at the heart string.
How could their lives, especially those of the children, end in such a manner? Have demands of life in our society become such a do or die mission?
In fast-paced and highly competitive countries such as Japan, for instance, I read that more than a quarter of Japanese in their 20s have thought of ending their own lives.
Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The survey found that 28.4 per cent of respondents in their twenties had contemplated suicide, the highest of any age group, while 36.2 per cent of that group had considered taking their own life in the past year, according to the survey carried out by Japan's Cabinet Office.
More than 30,000 people take their lives annually in Japan amid rising unemployment, with family troubles and health problems also cited as key factors behind many of these suicides.
Those who are familiar with the Korean entertainment scene would have heard about the spate of suicide cases involving celebrities such as Jang Ja-yeon, Choi Jin-shil and Lee Eunjoo -- all talented, beautiful and popular -- so what could have been so terrible that they would want to end it all?
According to the Teenage Violence Prevention Centre based in South Korea, 14,939 students have asked for help to tackle bullying in school this year, a problem that led 520 students to contemplate suicide and 1,392 to suffer from depression.
A friend of mine from Befrienders Johor Baru, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that offers emotional support using telephone therapy, told me that relationship problems reign the highest among those who contemplate suicide.
My friend said although financial woes may also be a reason to contemplate suicide, those who call up and say they want to end their lives are those who are stressed out by love, or rather, a lack of it.
A lack of emotional support, such as not having anyone to turn to when one is faced with a problem, can make one suicidal.
Those at high risk include those who live alone, have attempted suicide before, have chronic pain or a terminal illness, have recently lost a loved one or are gay.
My friend told me that even if the call had been a prank call where the caller was just trying to kill boredom by calling up the hotline 07-331 2300 which is available from 4pm to midnight daily, the operator would still try to talk him out of suicide because there was no way of telling whether it was a genuine call for help or a prank.
"Even if we suspect that it was a prank, members were trained not to see it as one.
"We try to give the caller a glimmer of hope but whether they see it or not, we will not know.
"Hopefully, by talking to someone, the person can see the light... even a glimmer of it... to see that there are other options than killing oneself."
Just recently, a woman was found dead while her boyfriend was rushed to the hospital after passers-by found both of them in a car, which incidentally, was also a Proton Iswara at an oil palm estate in Kangkar Pulai.
The couple were in their 20s, and it was reported that the man had picked up his girlfriend to work when they were found in the oil palm estate at about 5am, with the ignition switched on.
It turned out that the woman had died of carbon monoxide poisoning while she and her boyfriend fell asleep in the car, so it was a case of death by misadventure.
To contradict what my friend told me, having an intimate relationship can also kill.
Life indeed calls one to see both sides of the coin. Even when the going gets tough, we should not despair as there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
Life is after all a precious gift.