"Thu, Nov 27, 2008 AsiaOne Teen leapt to death over CCA
No one would have thought Tan Wen Yi was a depressed or troubled teen. A Secondary 3 student of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Wen Yi was often described as a cheerful student who was respectful to teachers, and well-liked by fellow school-mates.
However, on 13 Feb this year, the 15-year-old student jumped to his death when he did not get approval from his teacher and parents to quit his co-curricular activity (CCA), track-and-field. The incident happened around 9pm at his home, a condominium located along Stevens Road.
What is known is that from the start, Wen Yi was unhappy about being in the track-and-field team and frequently missed training practices as a result. The situation improved a little when he began to do well in the sport, clinching 2 individual medals in the process.
He had expressed his wish to switch to another CCA, but was met with disapproval from both his teacher and parents.
On the day of the 13th, the teacher-in-charge of Wen Yi's CCA, Mr Ng Yeong Joo, 38, saw him in playing soccer in school with friends instead of attending practice. When confronted, Wei Yi revealed his unhappiness and expressed his wish to transfer to the drama club instead. However, this was met with disapproval from the teacher, as he advised him not to.
After the teacher had left, Wen Yi turned to his soccer buddies and confided that he was sick of attending training four times a week as punishment for his truancy, and expressed that he "wanted to die". Brushing off his comment as a joke, the friends continued with their game.
When Wen Yi got home at about 8.10pm that night, he told his parents that he had lost his interest in running, and insisted on making the switch to drama instead. However, his mother tried to dissuade him.
Dejected, Wen Yi's last words to his mother before returning to his room was, "I'd planned to do this in March, but i will do it now."
Sensing something was amiss, his mother quickly followed him into his room. She entered just in time to see Wen Yi climbing up the window ledge and pushing the window open before jumping down. She rushed forward to try and grab him, but it was too late.
Still in his school uniform when he jumped, Wen Yi was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.
Just a day before his death, Wen Yi had messaged his friend at around 5.47pm, extending an invitation to join him in a "crime spree". Wen Yi was alleged to have text messaged his friend that on the last day of his life, he would commit a series of law-breaking activities, "letting the world know of my crazy deeds", before ending his life by jumping off a building. He went on to add, "As my friend, will you join me?"
Concerned, Wen Yi's friend spoke to him about the message the next day. It was then that Wen Yi told him he was tired and found life meaningless. During their conversation, Wen Yi also revealed that he would carry out his "plan" in March. His friend tried to console him, and told him to push any suicidal thoughts out of his head. Sadly, his words went unheeded."
There are other headlines jostling for attention with this story today. e.g. the hostage taking deadly drama in Mumbai Taj and Oberoi Hotels in India! I found this story tragic from the parents and the teacher's perspective and the young man who took his life.
It is scary for teacher and parents when such an act by a seemingly, on that day, normal and well behaved student would end his life in split seconds though the pains he gone through were for months.
The mood swing from one moment to another is so fast and unpredictable or unfathomable by 'normal' people is precisely the point that 'normal' people need to be more aware that there is NO REASONABLE explanation for extreme behaviors! We just have to be more sensitive and willing to listen, REALLY LISTEN, when someone poured his or her feelings about what he or she is unhappy about. There is a need to realize that what is right, unless doing so will endanger another person's life, for the individual is what he/her feel and believe. NOT what we think is good or right for them!!
Lessons learned for me are:
1. listen carefully when someone confine in you their unhappiness! Listen to them and try to see things from their perspective!;
2. help them to make them happy by removing what made them unhappy if such removal does not endanger another person's life! It is not for us to say what is good for them IF they already shared with us their reasons for being unhappy! We need to be careful not to assume!;
3. being thankful that people in troubles or being troubled are willing to open up to us. Take the opportunity as that may be the turning point for the troubled person. It will be very hard on anyone who felt that he or she could have done that simple act of removing the cause of unhappiness when they were presented with that opportunity. It is unhealthy and we need to prevent that from happening.
My heart and condolences go to the deceased family. To the teacher and parents, move on. You did what you thought were good for the deceased. Look forward and help others from facing such tragedy will be the right response. It will be tough but the tough get going when the going gets tough!
Rest in peace to the deceased.