ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Conscript shoots self at Taiwan's Presidential Office
Publication Date : 04-05-2012
A military police conscript committed suicide while standing guard at the Presidential Office in the early hours of yesterday morning in Taipei, according to the Ministry of National Defence (MND).
The private, identified by his surname Kao, shot himself in the chest with his service T91 rifle while on duty at the main entrance to the Presidential Office at around 3am, according to the Military Police Command under the MND.
Kao was rushed to nearby National Taiwan University Hospital for emergency treatment but showed no vital signs on arrival at the hospital.
The conscript was pronounced dead after an hour of emergency treatment failed to resuscitate him, the command said.
Suicide tied to relationship problems: Chao
In response to the incident, Deputy Defence Minister Chao Shih-chang yesterday apologised to the family of Kao and to the public over the tragedy.
Initial investigations suggested that the conscript's suicide may be related to relationship problems, Chao told reporters before fielding questions in a legislative session yesterday.
Superiors had recently discovered from Kao's memos and diary that he was troubled by such problems and was offered counselling, according to the deputy minister.
Chao said he felt deep regret that such measures had apparently failed to stop the tragedy.
An ad hoc task force has been established to investigate the case, Chao said, adding that the MND will conduct a review on how to prevent suicide among service members.
The MND also pledged that various military units will offer counseling or psychological help to all service members following the incident.
Initial MND investigations have revealed that the 22-year-old Kao joined the Military Police 211 Battalion, which is responsible for guarding the Presidential Office, on March 6.
Kao was reportedly on duty from 2am to 4am yesterday at the main entrance of the Presidential Office. While on duty, Kao kneeled down, pressed his T91 rifle into the left side of his chest and fired three times, according to the initial probe.
While standing watch, guards like Kao are usually issued with two magazines, each containing six bullets. For safety precautions, the first bullet in each magazine is a blank cartridge.
Kao must have cleared the first blank shot before shooting himself, the investigations showed.
This is reportedly the first time a military police officer responsible for safeguarding the Presidential Office has committed suicide while on duty.
Presidential spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi said the office had no comment on the tragedy as the suicide case was still being investigated by the MND.
The office will conduct inspections and reviews on special agents and military police guarding the president to ensure that they can carry out their duties as usual despite the tragedy, Fan Chiang said.
15 suicide cases in past five months
Meanwhile, fielding questions at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Deputy Defence Minister Chao said a total of 15 cases of attempted suicide had been reported in the armed forces so far this year, resulting in a total of seven deaths and one serious injury.
In response to the latest tragedy, lawmakers urged the MND to take concrete measures to prevent military personnel from committing suicide.