Suicides of Top Students and The Worship of Academic Perfectionism

We previously reported the case of a straight-A student in Singapore who killed herself over two B-grades, despite scoring scored distinctions for her other subjects.

Here’s another story (albeit in the United States) that appeared recently in The New York Times.

Now, if you are contemplating suicide due to academic failure, may we please ask you to watch this video?

We feel that too many students (and their parents) are selling themselves short in the quest for academic perfectionism.

Education — which was meant to be a blessing — is turning out to be a heavy yoke, because it has been substituted into a form of idol worship.

As Christians, we are taught that it is God who supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) and who gives us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). However, society instills into us a false belief that the only guarantee to a bright future is academic perfectionism (and thus, the need to worship at its altar).

The two stories (in the hyperlinks provided above) illustrate that when parents and their children buy into this false belief, it can lead to tragic consequences.

You see, academic perfectionism leaves no room for error, no room for a anything but an A-grade, or for others being better than you.

The spirit of academic perfectionism flogs you into thinking that in order to survive in the world, you need to be ‘Number 1’ in every subject, everytime.

And when you are not the ‘Number 1’, the spirit of academic perfectionism ridicules you and tells you that your life is not worth living.

On the other hand, the Spirit of Christ tells us that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28), meaning that even if you fail to achieve academically what you had set out to achieve, God still has a wonderful plan and destiny for you.

God’s plan and destiny for each of us stands firm even when other people are better than us. Indeed, the Spirit of Christ teaches us to be humble, to think of others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

Now, think about it again — isn’t it liberating to be able to acknowledge others as being better than ourselves, yet at the same time, rest in full assurance that God has a wonderful plan and destiny for each of us?

And when we do that, we find ourselves less stressed up, less desirous of making comparisons with others, and more able to become what God had intended us to be.

That’s why the Spirit of Christ tells us: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest“. (Matthew 11:28).

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2 thoughts on “Suicides of Top Students and The Worship of Academic Perfectionism

  1. Hello all 🙂 Thought I’d share this short film, PSLE-Go, inspired by the stories of teen suicides in Singapore. It tells the story of a young girl who considers ending her grief over the pressures of exams, and how her support network reacted to the incident.

    The filmmakers Jerome Lau (Producer) and Stanley Yap (Director) wanted to address our society’s obsession with academic success and how this affects young children, psychologically, and how we might be losing sight of what’s important in the paper chase.

    It really spoke to me, as a reminder that there is a gentler, kinder way to “survive” in today’s reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SingaporeChristian.com

      Thank you for sharing this video with us! Although the video is not a Christian-themed one, many of our viewers might find it to be a useful resource in counselling children, or even in broaching the subject of suicide with their own children. Hence, we are grateful to you for informing us of its availability.

      Blessings,
      SingaporeChristian.com

      Like

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