Primary 5 student's suicide: Court hears how boy struggled to cope with grade expectations

The boy, referred as Master H, scored 20.5 out of 100 for mathematics and only 12 marks for his Higher Chinese exam.

Picture for representation
Picture for representation Reuters

A Singapore court ruled on Friday that the death of a Primary 5 boy, who fell from his bedroom window on the 17th floor on the day he was to show his parents his mid-year examination results, was "a deliberate act of suicide".

The boy, referred as Master H (11), is believed to have committed suicide for failing the first time in his mid-term examination. He scored 20.5 out of 100 for mathematics and only 12 marks for his Higher Chinese exam.

During the court hearing, it was said that the students transitioning from Primary 4 to Primary 5 are likely to have a dip in their results due to changes in their examination format. The changes are in their examination format are meant to prepare them for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)

According to the Straits Times, State Coroner Marvin Bay urged parents and teachers to remind children that "their efforts in 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 added.

According to the news portal, Master H got back his examination papers for English language, Mathematics, Chinese language and Higher Chinese on 12 May and he got 50, 20.5, 53.8 and 12 marks respectively. It was also reported that he had got an average of 70 marks for his subjects in the previous years.

It was also heard at the court that the boy's mother would cane his palm lightly, for every mark he fell short of her specified standard of 70 percent.

On 14 May (Saturday), after Master H told his mother that his examination results were "average", she brought him a kite which he went to flying with his father on Sunday.

On 18 May morning, after his parents found his room locked for some time, they went in search for the missing boy. They spotted his body lying at the foot of the block. A paramedic pronounced the boy dead at 7am on that day.

According to the news portal, the mother was heard repeatedly saying while crying next to her dead son: "I only ask for 70 marks, I don't expect you to get 80 marks."

The State Coroner reportedly said, "Master H 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 ...

"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.