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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Child & Youth Suicides

15 year old NUS High Student Commits Suicide

From the Institute of Mental Health, Dr Daniel Fung, Carolyn Kee and Dr Rebecca Ang, share that there is a “worrying trend of extremely young suicides which has become more apparent in the past 10 years.” (Information taken from HERE.)

Case 1
A month or 2 ago, a young student living in the same block of university apartments as The Daughter, hanged himself. Another young man looked across the space between the 2 blocks of flats and saw him hanging by the neck on a rope. The university broke into the apartment and took down the lifeless body. The young man was a top student in a top junior college. It seemed to all that he was destined for the best scholarship and the best university in the world.

In . The . World.

On the day of his A level exam, he walked into the hall with an mp3 player. The penalty was heavy indeed. His entire paper was voided. He left his top junior college with a marred A level certificate. He also left with a record of having attempted to "cheat".

Case 2
This weekend, a Mommy emailed me something that weighed upon her heart. She told me of her good friend's daughter, who had committed suicide because she had failed her first year at a local university.

Case 3
It's bad enough to hear of 2 cases in 3 months but today, I saw the news of the 15 year old NUS High student who committed suicide.

What is going on?

Note that these are children who may be considered the cream of our youths. The first was from a top school... in a top program... at the top of his cohort. The second was a university undergrad in a good local university. The 3rd is from NUS High... a school that takes in the top science and math talent in the nation.

I'm not going to say much about the educational system. I do think that the past 15 years of ranking schools, and teachers and driving for KPIs have frightened parents into a vortex of uncontrollable anxiety and disappointment. However, MOE is changing. Slowly. That's good enough for me.

Parents' Role
Meanwhile, I would like to send an appeal to parents who have just received their children's CA2 results. Some of your children may have done very badly, in the same way that Little Boy did very badly for Chinese (last in class). Please don't dump your anger and frustration on your child. That's like kicking a man when he's down. Pick up your child. Put him on your knee and examine the process of studying that had lead to poor results.

Please focus on process, not on results.

I KNOW for a fact that all children want to please their parents. No child enjoys disappointing his/her parents. Gee... when I teach the children in Dr Pet's Enrichment, all the children fall over themselves to please ME, and I am not even their parent!! Often times, our children do poorly in school NOT because they were lazy or they did not care. The children often don't access the learning they need to do well. If parents have not known how to help their child, nor had the money to help their child... then please, the least you can do is to comfort your child in his/her hour of need.

It's just too bad that you didn't have the money nor the knowledge to help your child. Take your anger out somewhere else but NOT on your child. Your anger stays in the child. It festers and it grows. It poisons your child... sometimes to death.

Whatever the MOE has done or failed to do is beside the point. As parents we can make a difference to whether our children grow up emotionally crippled or not.

I am illiterate in Chinese. I refused to give Little Boy tuition in Chinese. When Little Boy came home last in class for Chinese, I smiled at him. When he next came home 2nd last in Chinese, I celebrated his improvement. I could not be angry at my Little Boy. He had tried his best. It was not his failure to bear alone. It was mine too. If only I could write Chinese at the level that I could write English. Unfortunately, I could not and cannot. If only I had sent him to enrichment since he was 3 years old. Unfortunately, I did not. Whose fault is it? Mine.

Of course, if every school is a good school and teaches everything the child needs to tackle exams, then there is no need for parents to teach at home... nor buy enrichment for their kids. However, Little Boy's school taught Chinese strictly from the textbook (which we all know is insufficient to pass exams). Whose fault is it? The MOE.

Do not make your child shoulder YOUR failure as a parent to bridge the gap that primary schools should not have left there. It is YOUR failure that you could not bridge the gap. It is the failure of the educational system to have left that gap unfilled.

It is NOT the failure of your child. Alone.


Melodies said...

This phenomenon is not exclusive to Singapore. It happened to all those Asian countries such as Korea,Japan, China etc.. Hmmm...,any similarities among these countries? I think they value academics more than anything else for child & youth at the expense of other development such as resilience!

We need to foster resilience in our kids. Hopefully, they can acquire the skill sets of problem-solving, independence, optimism and social connection. Any failures/rejection in life do not faze them as they have the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.

Come to think about that, I am guilty for not starting it from home and also should stop doing anything for my child.

Anonymous said...

That's my classmate... I wish he didn't take his life. To this day I still miss him. I wish no child has to suffer the consequences of the failure on part of the grown ups, it makes me horribly sad. He could have lived he was smart. Anyone who is good enough to be able to get into my school have the potential to become wonderful people. :'(