Last June, a mother pushed her 9-year-old child out of the kitchen window, causing him to plunge five-storeys to his death1. The news shocked the whole of Singapore. But when the details of the mother’s living circumstances were revealed, shock turned into sympathy. 31-year-old single mother Rebecca has a long history of mental illness, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2006. Gabriel, her sickly child, suffered from multiple medical problems since birth and required round-the-clock care. This left Rebecca unable to work, and they had to rely on the meagre monthly income of $1,000 from Gabriel’s grandmother to survive. Why did she do it? Rebecca believed that if she injured her son badly enough, the authorities would take him away from her. She was not the only one. Just last month, another mother was charged with murdering her autistic son2. The 7-year-old was found at the foot of their block in Tampines. It is often said that a mother’s love is unconditional. What then, drove these mothers to kill their child? Being a parent is a tough job. Being both a parent and a caregiver to a child requires much, much more. Caregivers face a tremendous amount of stress, frustration, and loneliness. This often goes unnoticed, overshadowed by the more visible sufferings of the patient. What these cases have showed us is that we, as a society, need to care for the caregivers as well. Caregivers need their own time and space to have a break, recharge and care for themselves. If not, it could just be a disaster waiting to happen.
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