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Thursday April 20, 2006
HE WAS a second-year student at a top junior college, a member of the school volleyball team, a cheerful and energetic boy who was doing well enough in his studies to take Special Papers.
Yet on March 3 this year, the 18-year-old jumped to his death from a Bedok housing block, because he was convinced his private parts were too small.
Delivering a verdict of suicide on Tuesday, State Coroner Tan Boon Heng was sufficiently concerned by this tragedy of misinformation to recommend that the case be forwarded to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
The importance of sex education to our young people in schools cannot be over-emphasised, he wrote.
The case study is useful for relevant MOE officers to appreciate the problem of the severity of misinformation even among the best and brightest in our schools.
The boy, who cannot be named, had confided in his mother in October last year that he was worried his penis was too small.
She took him to a neighbourhood clinic, where the doctor told him his penis was of a normal size for an Asian man, and prescribed him multivitamins.
Despite strong emotional support from his girlfriend and his mother, he remained convinced he had a problem. He also had a history of being stressed over schoolwork.
In January, he told his mother that his life was boring and meaningless and that the only thing stopping him from suicide was his family's love.
On March 3, after his usual volleyball practice, he took a bus from school to the Bedok interchange, but did not take his usual connecting bus home. When his sister sent him a text message at around 7pm to ask if he was coming home for dinner, he replied that he would eat out.
The next and final message she received from him was at 8pm, telling her and their mother to take care.
They realised something was wrong, but he repeatedly failed to answer his phone.
He jumped from a housing block near the Bedok bus interchange at around 8.30pm.
He was semi-conscious when he was taken to Changi General Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 10.40pm from multiple injuries. The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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