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Deaths could have been prevented, say doctors

There was a good chance that the deaths could have been prevented if Ms Andrea Tay had sought treatment, said Dr Thomas Lee, a psychiatrist in private practice.

When told about Ms Tay's symptoms, he said it was possible that she could have had paranoid schizophrenia.

"It seems that she had a lot of delusions and false beliefs," Dr Lee said, adding that if treated, symptoms can go away in as quickly as three months.

Another psychiatrist in private practice, Dr Lim Boon Leng, said that such patients can easily be triggered, especially if their families are argumentative, or "emotionally expressive".

But both doctors conceded that it can be difficult for family members to persuade someone to seek treatment, especially if they do not think that they are ill.

Dr Lim said: "Many are afraid of angering their family members, but really, do not delay or wait (for help)."