State Coroner Marvin Bay has delivered his findings and ruled that the death of an 11-year-old boy, who fell 17 floors from his bedroom window at Sengkang block along Fernvale Link on the day he was to show his parents his mid-year examination results on Friday (21 October), was found to be “a deliberate act of suicide”.
Mr Bay told parent and educators to always remind children that “their efforts in the study may not always yield a commensurate result and also that such failures are transient or temporary events”.
“Parents and educators should also constantly reassure them that they will always be there to help the child through each stumble, winding turn and setback in their education journey,” he urged.
The boy, referred as Master H, was a Primary 5 pupil. He was described by the school principal as an average performer who was generally able to cope with school and had never failed in any of his subjects. He was said to have gotten an average of 70 marks for his subjects.
However, Mr Bay noted that students transitioning from Primary 4 to Primary 5 would generally have a dip in their results, saying that changes in their examination format are meant to prepare them for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
On May 12, Master H had received some of his scores from school. Out of a full score of 100 points, the boy scored 50 for English, 53.8 for Chinese, 12 marks for Higher Chinese and 20.5 for mathematics.
However, he told his mother that his examination results were “average”. Therefore, on Saturday (14 May), his mother bought him a kite. The next day, the boy and his father went to fly the kite.
The court heard that his mother would cane his palm once for every mark short of 70 marks.
On May 16, he received another score, which was 57.5 for science.
On 18 May morning, the boy was on his school uniform when he should be in his physical education attire, as he had a Wushu lesson. Her mother then asked him to change his attire.
The boy’s father noticed that he was taking a longer time than usual to get ready for school. His mother tried to open the bedroom door, but it was locked.
After using a spare key to unlock the door, they could not see any sign of the boy when they entered the room.
When they looked out of the window, they saw their son lying on a grass patch at the foot of their block. The mother then called the police at around 6.50am.
A paramedic pronounced the boy dead at 7am.
His mother was seen lamenting beside her son’s body in Mandarin, saying “I only asked for 70 marks, I don’t expect you to get 80 marks.”
According to Mr Bay, the boy appeared to have difficulty in understanding and coming to terms with his precipitous fall in his grades.
“He appeared fearful of revealing his poor grades to his parents,” he said.
“In his desperation, he had woven a fictitious account of his grades to preserve an impression that he was coping well, and attaining grades that conformed to their pre-set expectations…. He had tragically taken his own life, rather than face the remainder of the day,” he added.
- Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) – 1800-221-4444
- National Family Service Centre – 1800-2220000
- Singapore Association for Mental Health – 1800-283-7019
- Care Corner Mandarin Counselling Centre – 1800-353-5800
- Touchline (Touch Youth Service) – 6273 5568
- Tinkle Friend: Children – 1800-274-4788 on weekdays