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'Intelligent, dedicated' woman, 27, takes her own life after struggling to afford £900-a-month rent and having to choose which meal to eat

MyLondon 24/01/2023 Lucy Williamson

An 'intelligent, dedicated' 27-year-old woman took her own life after struggling to afford a £900 a month rent in a shared South West London flat. Yee-King Ho, known as 'Fion' to friends and family, came to live in London from Hong Kong in April 2022, moving to a flat in Richmond in what family hoped would be an exciting chapter in her life.

But for her brother, Tommy Ho Yiu Hang, back in Hong Kong, alarm bells started to ring when his sister disclosed she was battling insomnia, losing her hair and was struggling to afford her "unhygienic" £900 flat share. Tommy later found after her death a notebook entry detailing what days she would eat lunch or dinner to save money.

When Fion didn't show up for her job as an officer at a charity, which campaigns for female education, and she did not answer her phone, Tommy asked one of the other three tenants to check on her.

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Yee-King Ho, known as 'Fion' © Facebook Yee-King Ho, known as 'Fion'

Tragically, it was discovered that Fion had taken her own life and she was pronounced dead on November 3, 2022. Her death was listed as a suicide, Coroner Dr Anton van Dellen confirmed today (Tuesday, January 24).

Her brother Tommy later learned the full extent of his sister's struggles, including that she was booked for a psychological counselling session for depressive symptoms just four days after her death. In a statement read by the coroner, Tommy said: "She mentioned to me on September 7, 2022 that since July, she was worried about her income and was not able to sustain her life in the UK and felt depressed.

"The hygiene condition of the bathroom made her feel uncomfortable...This made her pressure build up and fall to a loss of strength to work from home and live at home. And she seldom left her room.

"She was scared she will be laid off from work due to stress and face a loss of income due to her poor working performance. Due to insufficient income, I think she has begun to limit her meals per day."

He added: "To my sister. I feel so sorry for the pressure and pain you suffered. I only knew them all after your death. I always wish I can stop this tragedy, but it is impossible. I can only accept the fact and follow your will on taking care of our parents. I wish you are now in heaven in a much better place without any pain, pressure and comparison. Only with freedom, joyful life. Rest in peace, my beloved sister."

The coroner described Fion as an "intelligent, dedicated" young woman and expressed his sorrow that her time in the UK was not a happy time for her. Fion had finished a bachelor's degree in Asian and International Studies in Hong Kong in 2017. She then finished a master's degree in International affairs at Geneva in 2019.

She worked in Jordan as an Assessment Officer from September 2019 to October 2020. She then worked as an international and Relief Service Officer of Hong Kong Red Cross from December 2020 to March 2022. She began living in the UK in early April 2022 through a British national overseas visa. She planned to live and work in the UK for five years and then apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Coroner Dr Anton van Dellen told the inquest: “I am only very sorry that the time she spent in England was clearly not a happy time for her. England is enriched by having such strong links to Hong Kong and benefits enormously from having people from Hong Kong coming to live and work in England.

"Fion is an excellent example of the high calibre of person who is so welcome in England. She was clearly a very highly intelligent and dedicated humanitarian worker. The world is a much sorry-er place for not having her in organisations that help people in need. I hope her family holds dear to them the memory that Fion was someone who wanted to try and make the world a better place.

"I don't underestimate how difficult it is for a young person living far away from their family in a city such as London. Her brother explained how Fion rented a room for £900 a month sharing the bathroom and communal spaces. Unfortunately this is a problem faced by any young people in London where a low salary struggles to cover the costs of rent and eating.

"And one of the most upsetting pieces of evidence that I heard was evidence that it appears that Fion had limited her eating due to insufficient income."

The coroner praised her brother for giving extensive evidence from Fion's phone records, search history and movements in the days before her death to assist the coroner's enquiry. He added: "Pulling the threads together of what he has uncovered is by any stretch of the imagination, a very impressive document. Not least considering that this is a grieving brother."

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