true crime

This woman's eczema may have played a role in a tragic murder-suicide.

For 24-hour crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

It was a male relative who made the call to police. Knocks on the door of the Pang family’s apartment building in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, were going unanswered. No one could get hold of them.

When authorities forced their way in on Monday, they found three bodies; those of 23-year-old Pang Ching-yu, her mother, aged 56, and her father, 60.

The parents had suffered stab wounds to their chests while the former nursing student appeared to have taken her own life.

According to The Washington Post, assistant district commander of Tuen Mun District, Yan Fong-wai, told reporters a suicide note was found in Pang’s bedroom, a note that indicated she was “struggling with some disease that makes her feel that to live is worse than to die.”

While an official motive for the killings is reportedly yet to be determined, police believe her eczema may have been a contributing factor.

CNN pointed to a number of forum posts in which Pang described being tormented by the condition, which is characterised by inflamed, dry, intensely itchy patches of skin.

“People with eczema giving birth to kids are worse than poor people giving birth to kids,” the post reads, according to the outlet. “If you’re poor, you can rely on your own hard work. With eczema, sorry, you have to suffer (your whole life) with no change.”


According to the Eczema Association of Australasia, one in three Australians suffer from eczema and the condition is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder, including asthma or hay fever. Most sufferers grow out of the condition in adolescence, though a small percentage may experience severe eczema into adulthood.

It isn’t curable, but topical ointments and creams can alleviate symptoms in some cases.

While it’s important not to minimise the distress the condition can cause sufferers, as Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong, told The South China Morning Post it’s also crucial not to simplify the reasons someone may take their own life.

“For us who work on preventing suicide, the biggest worry is simplifying the causes, because it may normalise suicide as a solution to general situations,” he said.

For 24-hour crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.