Editor’s Note: Singapore has been reeling in the wake of news reports on 19 July that a 16-year-old schoolboy had murdered a fellow student, a 13-year-old in a bathroom at River Valley High School–a prominent secondary school in Singapore. Later reports revealed that the suspect suffered from mental health struggles and has since been remanded for psychiatric assessment.
Four days ago, I was searching for some information online when I came across the news about a student’s death in River Valley High School (a prominent and prestigious secondary school in Singapore).
My initial thought was that the death might be due to Covid-19 as local cases have been on the rise recently. But as I clicked on the article, I realised to my horror that the death was unrelated to Covid-19. Instead, it was a brutal murder of a 13-year-old boy in a toilet at the school compound. Later reports confirmed that he was murdered by a 16-year-old schoolmate, but both boys were “not known to each other”. An axe was seized as a case exhibit.
Baffled and confused by what could have led to such a horrendous act, I tried to search for more details online, but not much was available as the Ministry of Education, the school, and the police were still in the midst of investigating the case and were urging the public not to speculate or circulate any unauthorised information. Two days later, news reports revealed that the teenage suspect had a history of mental health struggles, and had attempted suicide two years ago. He has since been remanded for psychiatric observation and would be charged in court for murder.
This news has shaken my nation to the core as Singapore schools are known to be safe places. As a mother with a young school-going boy, I was dumbfounded and devastated. How could such a thing happen in my country, one of the safest places in the world?
I grieved over the loss of the young life. What if my son had been the one killed? I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose my only child so abruptly, never seeing him return home again or having the chance to say goodbye. There will be no one calling me “Mummy” anymore. Or what if he were the one who had killed someone’s precious child, causing another mummy a lifetime of grief? My son’s future will be marred with the crimson stain of the crime. Either way, this tragic outcome has shattered the lives of two young boys who had so much ahead of them.
As my thoughts were running wild, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is always with us. Though I may not be able to keep my son away from all danger or save him from trouble, I can still instill in him the hope of the gospel. Even at his tender age, I can let him know that we have a God who will never leave nor forsake us, and we can run to Him with all our troubles. When we anchor our lives in God, He will guard our minds and direct our paths to make right choices.
Another reminder the Spirit brought to mind is there is redemption in Christ. We are not people left without hope. There is always hope in God who is sovereign and wills all things for our good (Romans 8:28). There is always redemption in Christ even in the darkest moments and most hopeless of situations. As fallen people, we all need the grace of God to do what is right and protect ourselves from the evil that we (or others around us) are capable of. Without God, we are all like lost sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
In light of God’s grace and goodness, I want to encourage mothers to stand in the gap to intercede and pray in this difficult season:
- For peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) to dwell among those involved in this tragedy (the boys, their families, and friends), for schools, and for Singapore as a whole. That we will find comfort in the hope of God and experience His everlasting love for us even in such a time like this.
- For love for one another (John 13:35, 1 Corinthians 13:13). May we learn to show more empathy and extend help to those who are grieving. This is also where we, as a church, can arise and support one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) without passing judgement as a body of Christ in unity.
- For wisdom (James 1:5) to guide our children with sound and biblical advice when they approach us with questions on this tragic incident. That they will be able to discern truth for themselves and not waiver in hope.
A tragedy had happened, which is a blaring reminder that this is not our eternal home. But we have an anchor in Christ who gives us a sound mind and a secure hope even in the darkness. Let us not waver but keep watch of our well-being and show concern for those around us, especially those who are affected and the vulnerable.
Let us cast our cares unto Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Let us sing of His hope because out of ashes, beauty will rise—in the presence of God, dwelling on His promises. Though the days are hard, God’s tangible presence is with us, and His Word gives us light to direct our paths for what is ahead.
Let faith and hope arise.