Sunday, May 02, 2010


It is extremely distressing to learn that an 18-year old Polytechnic student has chosen to end her life. Not that this is rare. I have heard of others of similar age who have either ended their lives or attempted to end their young lives for any reasons ranging from the pressure of school work and exams to failed relationships. Thus news of the suicide of one Temasek Polytechnic student, Melissa Toh, taking her life to end whatever hardship that had befallen her brought back memories. When I was an 18-year old, I lost a classmate, to illness. It was as sudden as this latest reported suicide, something that occurred out of the blue. Yes, he had lately been moaning about life and the meaning of life, but I had thought it was something that all 18-year old's ask all the time. Then he was absent from school and I heard that he had passed away, of an illness that he never told me about, never shared with me. I called the family, which I had never met in my life, to ascertain the truth. It was painfully true.

He was a brilliant student, and had secured offers of scholarship from one source or another. He had a bright future ahead of him, but it was taken prematurely through the curse of illness, which to this day, I have never really understood. But the fact was, he was no more.

But why, why would an otherwise healthy, and from all accounts, cheerful and pretty girl want to end her life? If the disappointment and hurt of a failed relationship all that devastating that nothing but death could comfort and resolve? Were there no one whom she could turn to for solace, encouragement and counsel? By all accounts she wasn't a loner. Yet the social safety net, if there was one, failed her in her hour of need. We will never know what had gone through her mind in the last moments of her very young life. We would want to know, to understand though not to criticize, to empathise with her though she is no more. What empathy, you ask. She is simply no more! Therein lies the bewilderment, the hurt that her friends and family must be facing right now. They must be asking the same thing though it is futile now.

Some may not agree with what she has chosen to do. I feel the same. Yet my feelings matter no more. A young life has ended, and we can only express our condolences to her family and friends. If there is one lesson that we can take away, that lesson is that death visits the young and the old. It was so for me when I was at that age with the loss of a dear friend. It remains painfully the same to some others today

Thus while we yet live, it is important that we know who our creator is, and the salvation that can only be found in him. One is never too young to face up to this.

Rest in Peace, Melissa.

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