Police: Choi depressed before suicide

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Police: Choi depressed before suicide

Choi Jin-young suffered from depression after the suicide of his sister, actress Choi Jin-sil, and hanged himself with an electrical cord, police confirmed yesterday.

Gangnam police investigators said the actor and former pop star had refused his mother’s pleas that he see a doctor, instead relying on nonprescription tranquilizers he bought from a pharmacy. “Choi was frustrated because he wasn’t working in local TV shows these days and he felt things weren’t working out as he’d planned,” Kwak Jeong-ki, the investigator in charge of the case, said at a press briefing. “He’d been staying at home and keeping to himself lately, even though he had regularly seen his friends before.”

Kwak said that Choi, 39, had told his family he was under stress and had suffered horrendous headaches six months ago, and that everything tired him. After enrolling in theater and cinema studies at Seoul’s Hanyang University in 2009, he attended only the first day of classes in this year’s spring semester.

His close friends and aides also told investigators that Choi had previously attempted suicide several times after his sister’s death in 2008. Choi Jin-sil killed herself after reportedly being distressed by Internet rumors that linked her to the suicide of actor Ahn Jae-hwan.

Kwak said Choi Jin-young is believed to have died between 1 p.m. and 2:14 p.m. on Monday, but they will not ask for an autopsy according to his family’s wish because there were no wounds on his body or evidence of a break-in to his apartment. The official cause of death was asphyxia due to pressure on the neck. Choi’s mother and a college friend found his body hanging from the attic of his apartment shortly after the friend, a 22-year-old woman surnamed Jeong, telephoned his mother to say that he wouldn’t talk to her on the phone after a few rambling words at 10 a.m.

The two women met at a coffee shop near Choi’s apartment and went to check on him. They found him dead and immediately called for help. CPR was attempted but Choi was pronounced dead on arrival at Gangnam Severance Hospital in southern Seoul at 2:46 p.m. His funeral procession will start at 8 a.m. today and he will be buried in Gapsan Park in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi, where his sister is buried.

Choi made his debut as a television commercial model in 1987 and started his acting career three years later. He rose to stardom in 1993 with the popular TV show “Our Heaven.” After completing military service, he began a singer career under the name “SKY.” His first single, “Forever,” topped music charts in 1999.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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