Mother dies months af­ter her daugh­ter

Weekend Herald - - News - Natalie Akoorie

The mother of an Otago Univer­sity stu­dent who died in a sus­pected sui­cide in March has also died sud­denly.

Mon­ica Soni died by sus­pected sui­cide last Wed­nes­day. She had been bat­tling the coro­nial sys­tem for the re­lease of two letters writ­ten by daugh­ter Niki Soni hours be­fore her death on March 10 in Dunedin.

The 24-year-old wrote six letters to in­di­vid­u­als be­fore she died and in­structed that her mother read them all.

Mon­ica read four in­clud­ing one to her­self, but two ad­dressed to aca­demics at the univer­sity where Niki was study­ing a mas­ters de­gree were with­held by the po­lice and coro­ner Anna Tut­ton as part of the in­quest into Niki’s death.

Mon­ica told the Week­end Her­ald in May it was Hindu cus­tom that a de­ceased loved one’s fi­nal in­struc­tions be car­ried out be­fore their ashes could be put to rest.

She said she needed to read the letters be­fore she could take Niki’s ashes to In­dia and it was break­ing cus­tom not to, which she found trau­ma­tis­ing.

Mon­ica, who was liv­ing in Can­berra at the time, asked Dunedin po­lice for the letters and ap­pealed to the two staff they were ad­dressed to.

When that didn’t work she tried the coro­ner’s of­fice and hired a lawyer to ar­gue her case.

On Septem­ber 5 she flew to Auckland. Po­lice found her body later that day. The of­fice of chief coro­ner Deb­o­rah Mar­shall has con­firmed she is now in­ves­ti­gat­ing both deaths.

An Otago Univer­sity spokes­woman said: “Univer­sity staff who knew Mon­ica, and her daugh­ter, have been shocked and sad­dened at this tragic news.”

Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Robin­son said re­search showed peo­ple who lost close fam­ily mem­bers or friends to sui­cide were at sig­nif­i­cantly higher risk of sui­ci­dal be­hav­iour, de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and other neg­a­tive health and so­cial out­comes.

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