'We cannot make sense of what happened': PM Lee offers condolences after River Valley High School death

'We cannot make sense of what happened': PM Lee offers condolences after River Valley High School death

Psychological support will be given to students and staff members of River Valley High School following the death of a student on the school grounds on Monday (Jul 19). Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said counsellors trained in trauma management will be deployed. Tan Si Hui reports. 

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his condolences to the family of the 13-year-old boy who died at River Valley High School (RVHS), adding that help will be offered to students and teachers.

"Like all of us, I was shocked by yesterday’s tragic incident at River Valley High School. We cannot make sense of what happened. Words fail us because we cannot understand," Mr Lee said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Jul 20).

"We are overwhelmed imagining what the victim’s family are going through. Yesterday morning, they sent off their 13-year-old son to school. Suddenly, without any warning, he is no more."

On Monday, the boy was found lying motionless, with multiple wounds, in a school toilet. A 16-year-old schoolmate has been charged with murder. 

READ: Teenager charged with murdering fellow student at River Valley High School

"My heart goes out to his family. I know we cannot properly express our sympathy, or offer much comfort in their sudden calamity. But still, I would like them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them," Mr Lee said.  

"The teachers and students of RVHS are also in shock. We will help you walk through this dark valley, and come to terms with what has happened."

Mr Lee also urged the public not to worsen the trauma and grief of the affected families with speculation and rumour.

"The police are still investigating this case, to find out the motivations behind this tragedy, and if something could have been done to avert it," said Mr Lee. "Let us wait for them to complete their work."

READ: Boon Lay community, counsellors ready to support River Valley High School: Desmond Lee

Mr Lee called on staff and students to notify the school principals and counsellors if they know a pupil or a classmate who seemed troubled or under stress. 

"We place great emphasis on safety in our schools, and the well-being of teachers and students. 

"Our education system is not only about good academic performance, but also helping our kids to grow into happy and well-adjusted persons," he said. 

The Ministry of Education’s immediate priority is to ensure the welfare and well-being of RVHS students, teachers and their families, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post.

A CARE (Caring Action in Response to Emergencies) post will be set up in the school for the next few days. It will be manned by ministry and school counsellors trained in trauma management to provide psychological support for staff and students. 

The ministry is also reaching out to affected staff and students. Parents who feel that their child needs additional support can alert teachers and schools through helplines, said Mr Chan.

“For the longer term, we will continue to keep a close eye on students and staff who are still traumatised or show prolonged distress symptoms, and will refer them to professional help as necessary,” he said.

“This is a difficult time for our community as we grapple with what had happened. I urge everyone to refrain from speculation, and to respect the privacy of the affected families, students and staff.”

Mr Lee noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been "tough" on everyone, and reminded people that help is always available.

"If sometimes things seem too much to bear, please remember help is always available, even if it’s just to talk to someone about what’s on your mind," he wrote.

"We are all in this together. We are each other’s keepers. Let’s continue to look out for one another."

Where to get help: 

Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1800 221 4444

Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222

Singapore Association of Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019

You can also find a list of international helplines here. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.

Source: CNA/lk(gs)

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