SINGAPORE – After a 16-year-old River Valley High School (RVHS) student was charged with murdering a schoolmate three years his junior on Tuesday morning (July 20), Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam posted about the incident on Facebook, calling it “one of the worst things that can happen to parents”.

“It’s completely shocking because safety is assumed and normally (in Singapore anyway) assured,” he wrote.

“The attacker is also a young boy, (16), he has been charged today. As (the Attorney-General’s Chambers) told the court, there is some history of mental health issues.”

Preliminary investigations suggest the 16-year-old had purchased the axe online, he said.

“But we will know the full facts only after investigations are completed.”Police had said on Monday that they had seized an axe at the school.

The minister added: “We all grieve with the parents of the boy who was killed. It’s difficult to even describe the true extent of their grief.”

The 16-year-old appeared in court via video link on Tuesday morning at about 10am and was accused of murdering the 13-year-old at a level four toilet in the school between 11.16am and 11.44am on Monday.

The accused cannot be named as he is under 18 years of age.


The prosecution asked that the accused be remanded at Changi Medical Centre (CMC) for psychiatric observation.

He told the court that preliminary investigations revealed that the 16-year-old had been previously assessed at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in 2019 after he had attempted to commit suicide.

Policemen are seen inside River Valley High School, on July 19, 2021. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The judge ordered the accused to be remanded for psychiatric observation for three weeks and to return to court on Aug 10.

Those aged below 18 will not get the death sentence for murder, but could be given life imprisonment instead.

Getting help

• National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

Mental well-being

• Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service:
• Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
• Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
• Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714
• Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788


• TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
• Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800

Last modified: July 20, 2021