A 45-year-old woman and her nine-year-old son were found dead inside a private minivan parked on a street in Sha Tin in Hong Kong’s New Territories in the early hours of Tuesday. Police are treating the case as a murder-suicide.

At 3am, police officers patrolling around the intersection of On Yiu Street and On Sum Street in Sha Tin’s Shek Mun area found the woman and the boy lying inside a locked minivan, apparently unconscious, according to a release from the police force.

A basin with burned charcoal was found inside the vehicle. Paramedics arrived but the woman and the boy were dead at the scene.

Post-mortem examinations will be conducted to ascertain the cause of their deaths, police said.

Police have reclassified the case from “dead body found” to “murder-suicide” and an investigation by the Sha Tin Police District Crime Squad is under way.

It was understood that the woman had been depressed since her husband committed suicide in an office in Fo Tan on January 8 over financial problems, Apple Daily reported.

The woman and the boy were last seen on Sunday when they had dinner with relatives. The family were not able to contact them since then. On Monday night, they went to the woman’s home and found a suicide note. They reported the case to police.

The Samaritans run a 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention hotline +852 2896 0000 or e-mails can be sent to jo@samaritans.org.hk.