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Two tragedies shook this little red dot

Two tragedies shook this little red dot. One happened two years ago. The other happened last year. You may have probably heard or read about it.

More than two years ago, a 15-year-old, armed with an axe, left his classroom and waited in the toilet. When a 13-year-old student entered, he repeatedly slashed him. The two were not known to each other. They were studying in River Valley High School. Now 18, he pleaded guilty yesterday for culpable homicide.

The court was told that the accused was suffering from major depression disorder. He had attempted suicide in 2019. At that time, he was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health.

The other happened in June 2022. A 15-year-old girl stabbed her grandfather seven times in his room. At that time, she was living with him and her parents. After the stabbing, she took the lift to the 25th floor and jumped to her death.

During the coroner’s inquiry, it reports that “her diary did not reveal any ill intention towards her grandfather, although one entry indicated that she faced difficulties when talking to him.”

In another entry, she wrote that she had "great parents who care for her" and that she loved her friends. However, she talked about suicide in her diary, just like the accused in the other case.

Lesson? If there is any lesson here, it is about life. It is about embracing life.

When something this tragic happens, we do have many questions. This is especially so considering how young they are. They have not even celebrated their 18th birthday.

I don’t think I am able to fully understand what went through their young minds when they did what they did. They took innocent lives. One even took her own life after that. The other intended to do the same, but it didn’t go as he had planned. He now faces a prison sentence of 16 years.

I don’t think they were “snap” moment either. The acts were largely unprovoked. It’s premediated. They had time to think through what they planned to do. At every moment, they could have aborted the plan. Sadly, they carried it through.

Earlier, I mentioned about embracing life, and cases like this is a good lesson for parents to view their child in a different light.

In our busyness, we seldom notice that they may be silent sufferers. It’s far easier to assume that they are tough enough to meet the challenges of the day rather than to sit them down and explore the struggles they face. We try to avoid the subject because we don’t want to hear what we ourselves are too jaded to address.

They tell us that we are living in the best time of history. Lowest infant mortality rate. Highest life expectancy. Clean and accessible water. Fascinating technological breakthrough.

The world is superbly connected, with control at a touch of the handphone screen. AI is also making life incredibly simple and convenient. We are economically well off, and medical science and early detection can reverse cancer and extend life.

We are indeed at the top of the food chain. We have made it, scaling to the summit of our achievement. Yet, our children are entering a world that is highly daunting. It is a world they are often at a lost to navigate. It is also a world that make them question their worth, ability and hope.

We have become less tolerant of failure. We are obsessed with sprucing up our resume, without giving much thought to character development. We are often defined by our possessions and titles. The meaning of life is reduced to the material things of life.

Those who have much tend to treat those who have little as a means to their end. We lead lives of quiet desperation, thinking we are never good enough, and the anxiety is passed down to our kids.

In the past, we are able to assure our kid that everything will be ok. The sun will come up tomorrow. But nowadays, we struggle to assure ourselves of that. And our kids can sense our insecurities. The sun is hidden behind the dark clouds, and we can’t even be sure that the sun will come out tomorrow.

Against all that, our children are left behind. They are lost in the dazzling jungle we call technology, globalisation and unbounded prosperity.

Life is good, sure, but something is still missing. We are so well dressed, so well fed and so well informed, yet our soul is groping for meaning, and our kids are hardest hit by it. They are clueless and defencless against the lostness that they feel.

After I read about the cases, I drew near to my daughter. I didn’t say anything to her. I just wanted her know that I am here. Like her, her dad is also figuring things out. He’s none the wiser.

I believe there is no better way to move forward, except to move forward together. We can’t afford to leave anyone behind. It is the loneliest feeling to be lost by yourself, and everyone is groping in the dark alone.

Sharing our light in the darkness only makes our surrounding brighter. Our kids just need enough light to take the next step forward, and the assurance that we are in this together, even as a silent companion, lifts their soul and hope up above the turmoil.

I believe that is the safe anchor that we as parents can offer to our child so that they will embrace life, and cherish every moment they have living their own.

 

Micheal Han

* The writer blogs at Facebook.

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

9 Responses to “Two tragedies shook this little red dot”

  • So clever:

    Who says AI makes life “incredibly simple and convenient”? Must be a very intelligent person?

    In the old days, we enjoyed childhood by playing with marbles. Nowadays, kids are forced to do AI robot programming. Is this “incredibly simple and convenient”?

    In the old days, we enjoyed simple cheap phones, even mobile phones, with a few number buttons. Nowadays, we pay $1000s for phones that need frequent updating, upgrading and even become obsolete and unusable. Phones become a big channel for scams.

    Life has become very complicated and inconvenient for kids and adults.

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  • rice:

    It is obvious that excessive $eculari$m leads to much Negativism in a matter of time.
    People become more materialistic and less kind.
    Everything and even “EVERYone” is measured in terms of “$” ,the economic worth we can extract from him or her,young or old.
    Go ask our govt policy-makers.
    They know the true “working$” much better.
    For us,we can only observe.

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  • And the moral of the story is?

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  • Not at all:

    The PAP want you to embrace them and their shit NOT embrace life.

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  • Kau hee:

    Many many sad stories not reported.

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  • Roof:

    How about the father kill both sons at play ground.!

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  • Roof:

    Play ground should be a happy place.like sg.

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  • Sad:

    Sad..a reflection of Singapore Society.
    Very stressful for some people…

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  • SpecOps:

    There are parents of young children in western countries who hope the Sun sends a Coronal Mass Ejection and reset us back to the 1950s, because all they see in the future is a black mirror digital dystopia.

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