Record number of teen suicides in Singapore: Parents need a reality check, says expert

On May 18, an 11-year-old Primary 5 boy died after he jumped from his 17th-storey Sengkang flat  (read the story here).

The coroner found that the boy had killed himself after failing two subjects, Higher Chinese and maths, in his recent mid-year exam.

State Coroner Marvin Bay, who found the boy’s death to be a deliberate act of suicide, delivered his findings on Oct 21.

He said parents and educators should always remind the children under their care that failures are temporary.

They should also remind every child that their efforts in studying may not always yield a commensurate result.

He added: “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.”

Related: 5 ways to fight childhood stress

Experts The New Paper spoke to said every parent wants the best for his or her child, but these expectations should be realistic.

Mr Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, said many parents tend to base their expectations not on the ability of their children, but the ability of their children’s peers.

He said: “Parents need to tailor expectations to meet the child, not blindly expect the child to go a top school because people say go to a top school.

“Especially for children lacking confidence, these expectations come in three parts –fear, rejection and disappointment.”

The overall reported suicide rate last year was 409, the lowest since 2012. But suicide rates are increasing for those aged 10 to 19.

Last year, 27 children in that range ended their lives, according to figures from the Samaritans of Singapore.

It is the highest for the age group in 15 years. In 2014, it was 13 suicides for the same age group. Why they killed themselves was not specified in the report.

Dr Ken Ung, a psychiatrist at Adam Road Medical Centre, said these victims could have been affected by a psychiatric disorder.

“Doing badly by itself is usually not sufficient to cause something like this. It’s usually depression or presence of a psychiatric disorder,” he said.

Lending an ear to your child’s woes…

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