"Slayers" suicide pact (2008)

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A news report of the incident on Lianhe Wanbao.

At around 5.20 am on 23 August 2008, two boys from Tampines Secondary School  — Ku Witaya and Sia Chan Hong (both aged 16) had leapt to their deaths. The two had jumped from the ninth storey of Witaya’s apartment at Block 667 in Jalan Damai. Ku Witaya died immediately while Sia Chan Hong passed away at 7.50 am, two hours later after being sent to Changi General Hospital. Their deaths were the result of a suicide pact among eight friends led by Ku Witaya.[1][2][3]

Group profile[edit | edit source]

On 7 September 2009, a gag order was issued during a joint coroner’s inquiry to protect the identities of the surviving group members.[4]

The group of friends[edit | edit source]

Ku Witaya and Sia Chan Hong were childhood friends. The pair lived four bus stops apart and both had attended Eunos Primary School where they played basketball together.[5][6] As they went on to pursue their secondary education, they formed new friendships with their classmates at Tampines Secondary School.[7] The group of nine friends included Witaya’s younger brother.[8] They bonded over basketball and video games like ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ and ‘World of Warcraft’.[9]

Sia Chan Hong[edit | edit source]

The victims of the Slayers suicide pact, Sia Chan Hong (left) and Ku Witaya (right).

Sia Chan Hong was the older sibling of two sons. He was a Secondary 4 Express student at Tampines Secondary School. In secondary school, Chan Hong was class chairman and both him and Ku Witaya were on the school’s basketball team.[10] In an interview with The New Paper, Sia Leng Chye, Chan Hong’s father stated that his son wanted to be an accountant and that Chan Hong was self-motivated to study.[11]


Neo Tick Watt, the principal of Tampines Secondary School at the time, stated that Sia Chan Hong was a model student who dreamt of going to a junior college that had a strong basketball team. He mentioned that Chan Hong was driven and diligent in his studies — having asked his humanities teachers for extra lessons despite not having difficulties with the subject.[12]

Ku Witaya[edit | edit source]

The group centred around Ku Witaya who was seen as their leader. During a 2018 interview with Channel News Asia, the interviewee described Witaya as a charismatic and natural leader who commanded the respect of everyone in the group.[13] Through his actions, Witaya was the caretaker of the group. Quoted by the interviewee:

“He really took care of us… he really did it for you.”[14]

In the same interview, it was revealed that when one of the members had raked up gambling debts, Witaya immediately took action and sold his Sony Ericsson phone to help pay off the sum owed.[15]


Ku Witaya was the oldest of three siblings. He was born to Ku Kim Huat (father) who worked in construction and a Thai mother, who was a night-shift factory worker. In Tampines Secondary School, Witaya was a Normal Academic student who was repeating a year in Secondary 3. During the joint coroner’s inquest, the surviving group members had described Ku Witaya as their “big brother” and “best friend”. They mentioned he was “handsome”, “mature” for his age and someone they could approach for advice.[16]


Dr Adrian Wang, a psychiatrist who ran a clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre at the time stated that:

“Witaya was also someone who had a strong and dominant personality, a characteristic of cult leaders who can incite mass suicide”.[17]

Additionally, the group testified in court that Witaya looked troubled and stressed — due to his parents’ divorce and financial difficulties. One of the group members recalled Witaya mentioning that death will solve all his problems.[18]

Weekly Friday rituals[edit | edit source]

The Friday rituals occurred in Witaya's HDB flat at Jalan Damai. Photo from Channel News Asia.

In early 2006, Ku Witaya divulged to his friends that he was a Taoist medium and could communicate with the “Gods of Heaven and Hell”. Witaya also mentioned to the group that he was destined to join his father and grandmother, both of whom had been temple mediums. The group was convinced after seeing him in a trance and they soon began meeting at Witaya’s apartment every Friday for ritual sessions.[19]

Location[edit | edit source]

Witaya’s flat was treated as a makeshift temple that the group had named ‘Sheng Long Fu’ which meant ‘House of the Almighty Dragon’.[20] The living room hosted an altar which held figurines of Taoist Gods while the corridor leading up to the flat was lined with various religious artefacts including a blanket with a yin-yang symbol.[21][22]

Possessions & meditations[edit | edit source]

During the ritual sessions, Witaya would first take a bath to cleanse himself as a sign of respect to the Gods. Afterwhich, Witaya would enter a trance in which he would rock back and forth on a chair with his eyes closed. The trance would last about five minutes before he was "possessed" by a God. During each "possession", Witaya would abruptly "transform" into a completely different person. His voice would deepen and Witaya would be to fluently converse in Hokkien which was uncharacteristic of him.[23]


Each of the Gods that ‘possessed’ Witaya had unique traits and characteristic poses which Witaya would enact. Some Gods liked to smoke, as such the boys would then prepare a pack of cigarettes beforehand. [24]


While “possessed”, Witawa would dole out advice to the group. Witaya’s grandmother was a regular attendee who would often buy breakfast for the group the following morning. Witaya’s ritual sessions spread through word of mouth and soon strangers turned up at the apartment for “consultation services”. Through Witaya’s directive, no form of remuneration was accepted in exchange for the “consultations” else the group would be “punished”.[25]


After the possessions, the group would mediate. Using a breathing technique taught by Witaya, the friends would meditate together for 20 minutes to an hour.[26]

The suicide pact[edit | edit source]

A news report of the incident on Lianhe Wanbao.

Ku Witaya’s spiritual dream[edit | edit source]

In 2007, Ku Witaya allegedly had a dream that his group of friends had been chosen by God to be “slayers” and that they were the only ones who could save the world from “demons” and a possible World War III. Witaya reportedly said that the group had to meditate for four hours daily for a total of 118 days. This was allegedly a part of the training to be a “slayer”. In doing so, the group would be  strengthening their spiritual powers to combat the “demons”.


Each member had been given a moniker. All members except for one had a nickname in Mandarin. Witaya and Chan Hong were identified as “Xue Mo” [Trans: Blood Demon] and “Fei Yi Da Jiang” [Trans: Flying General] respectively.

Nickname(s) English Meaning Notes
Xue Mo Blood Demon Ku Witaya
Fei Yi Da Jiang Flying General Sia Chan Hong
Hu Fu Da Yuan Shuai Tiger Axe General [Identity protected]
Shadow Demon, *Huo Yan Wang *Fire King [Identity protected]
Ah Sheng - [Identity protected]
Yuan Wei Jiang Jun General [Identity protected]
Wei Yan Jiang Jun Great General [Identity protected]
Han Bing Wang Ice Cold King [Identity protected]

The joint suicide attempt (23 August 2008)[edit | edit source]

The thumbnail for SPH Razor's YouTube video that documented the incident. Photo from YouTube.

On 20 August 2008, Witaya told the group that they were unsuccessful “slayers” because his instructions had not been adhered to. Hence, the only way to become a “slayer” was to commit suicide. By doing so, they were ending their present lives to be “resurrected as one”.[27][28] Two days later (22 August 2008), Witaya brought up the idea of joint suicide once more. One of the group members backed out of the plan and head home. Following which, the remaining eight friends proceeded to Witaya’s flat in a cab.[29]


The group initially planned to hold hands and leap off the rooftop (13th floor) of Witaya’s apartment block together. However, the access door to the rooftop had been locked.[30] The group then returned to Witaya’s flat to carry out the act. The new plan was to jump off the Witaya’s bedroom window ledge in smaller pairs.[31] Upon realising the severity of their intended actions, another member of the group backed out. Flailing and crying, he attempted to persuade the group to rethink their actions but was dissuaded out of the apartment when the rest lied that they would not jump.[32]


Witaya offered to jump first and Chan Hong volunteered to jump with him. The pair reportedly returned from the window ledge twice due to Chan Hong fear and trepidation. After being consoled by Witaya, the two went back to the ledge for the third time. They held hands, counted to three and jumped off the ledge while mentioning the following words “see you later”.[33][34]


The next three boys had climbed onto the ledge, intending to follow suit. However, they immediately backed out after hearing Chan Hong groaning in pain. They ran downstairs to check on Chan Hong who told them not to jump while writhing in pain.[35] The police were notified and Chan Hong was later accompanied by one of the group members and taken to Changi General Hospital.[36]

Investigation details[edit | edit source]

A published image of one of the boys' journal entries. Photo retrieved from source.

Retrieval of personal journals[edit | edit source]

Through investigations, it was revealed that the surviving group members had hidden their diaries in a utility closet within the vicinity of Witaya’s flat. Journals belonging to Ku Witaya, Sia Chan Hong and one of the members were retrieved.[37]

Sia Chan Hong's journal[edit | edit source]

Excerpts from Sia Chan Hong’s diary read:

[Title:] “Last day on earth” [para break] “Last day being a emperor of my class (sic)” [para break] “I have to kiss goodbye to my studies, Good Academic Award for this year, my teachers, my prepared exam which is the final-year exam, my dream for studies and of my classmates.”[38]

Within Chan Hong’s journal entry, he wrote that he wanted to enter university. However, this had been cancelled out and written over with the phrase “Kiss Goodbye”. The journal entry ends with Chan Hong giving thanks and appreciation to his classmates and teachers.[39]

Ku Witaya's journal[edit | edit source]

Excerpts from Ku Witaya’s diary read:

[Title:] "Last Words" [para break] "0 days to world war. 0 days to meet my love. Today will be the day I will be writing my dairys (sic)."[40]

Within Witaya’s diary, there were repeated mentions of the initials ‘S.L.F’ — which was later found out to be the group’s name ‘Sexy Little Fellows’.[41][42]

Coroner's findings[edit | edit source]

In 2009, both Deputy Public Prosecutor (DDP) Ang Feng Qian and State Coroner Victor Yeo conducted a joint coroner’s inquiry. The deaths of Ku Witaya and Sia Chan Hong was ruled by the court as a suicide.[43]

Lying to the police[edit | edit source]

It was revealed during the inquest that the surviving group members had lied to the police during the initial investigations. The boys claimed that they had gone out for supper and were unaware of the deaths of their friends. However, the boys eventually confessed the truth. When probed by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DDP) Ang Feng Qian, one of the boys revealed that they lied because they felt that no one would believe their story of the “slayers” theory.[44]

Gaming habits theory (Disproved)[edit | edit source]

Pictured: The "Slayers" video game that was released in Japan on 24 June 1994.[45]

Since the incident, several international news sites which reported on the suicide theorised that the suicide pact was influenced by the Japanese video game ‘Slayers’ (スレイヤーズ ). These sources claimed that the boys had been fans of the game. However, there were no supporting evidence nor further statements to support the claim.[46][47][48][49]


The Coroner’s Court concluded that the deaths were not connected to the gaming habits of the group. It was noted that while the boys were avid gamers, the names of their game characters were different from the nicknames they had called each when they identified as “slayers”.[50][51]


Coroner Yeo reported that the psychiatric reports of the surviving six boys did not suggest a pathological online gaming habit. Ong Say How, consultant psychiatrist of the Child Guidance Clinic at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) who had conducted the assessments, added that online gamers are generally capable of distinguishing fiction from reality.[52][53]

Surviving members' statements[edit | edit source]

During the inquiry, the boys divulged the reason for agreeing to Ku Witaya’s claims. When DDP Ang asked what led up to Witaya’s suggestion for the joint suicide, one group member stated:

“He wanted to prove to others what he believed, (whether) it was the truth or just imagination.”[54]

State Coroner Yeo then asked the boy if the act of committing suicide was the only way to confirm Witaya’s statement. The boy then replied with:

"Because there is no other way. It's the reality world... no other way to prove a spiritual thing (sic)."[55]

During the conversation, the boy also mentioned that the group was initially hesitant to commit suicide. However, they eventually accepted Witaya's theory.[56]

Verdict[edit | edit source]

State Coroner Victor Yeo stated that the boys' participation in the suicide pact was attributed to the following factors:

"... the close relationship of this group, their group identity, peer influence and perhaps lack of maturity".[57]

He added that although some of the boys had been scared, they could not stop Witaya from jumping to his death due to his "strong influence over the group".[58]

Responses[edit | edit source]

Taoist Federation Singapore[edit | edit source]

Taoist Federation Singapore confirmed that Ku Witaya’s HDB apartment had been illegally used as a temple. The federation reported that over 1,000 housing flats were being converted into makeshift Taoist temples. According to Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB), the use of flats for any form of religious worship, activities or gatherings is strictly prohibited.[59][60] From 2007 to 2008, the HDB had issued warning letters to 12 flats who broke their tenancy agreements.[61][62]


Following the deaths, Taoist Federation Singapore tightened its regulatory measures. It issued registration forms to affiliated temples to create an official registry (referred to as ‘tang ki’ in Hokkien). This register was a way to suss out self-proclaimed mediums.[63] In 2010, the Taoist Federation Singapore reported that the number of temple registrations had increased by around 500. This was twice the total number of registered temples in 2009. A large majority of registrants were formed by ‘Sin Tua’ —  temples which operated from homes.[64]


In an interview with SPH Razor, President of Taoist Mission, Taoist Master Lee Zhi Wang emphasized the importance of living in orthodox Taoism. He added that committing suicide is considered a large sin in Taoist teachings.[65]

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. SPH Razor. “The verdict: Suicide (Suicide pact Pt 1)”. YouTube. July 26, 2013. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5M8ZjOQO8Q
  2. Chong, Elena. “They died ‘so as to save the world’”. The Straits Times. September 13, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  3. Chan, Crystal. “Double death fall”. The New Paper. August 25, 2008. Accessed on 23 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  4. Chong, Elena. “Teen medium 'made suicide pact with six friends’”. The Straits Times. September 8, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  5. Chong, Elena and Quek, Carolyn. “The teen who commanded strong loyalty”. The Straits Times. September 17, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  6. Tan, Dawn Wei. “Was one boy trying to save the other?”. The Straits Times. August 31, 2008. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  7. Aqil, Haziq Mahmud. “‘I thought of my mother’: Moving on from the teenage suicide pact that shook Singapore”. Channel News Asia. August 18, 2018. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/teenage-slayers-suicide-pact-that-shook-singapore-moving-on-10606186
  8. “Report: 8 Singapore teen ‘slayers’ planned group suicide”. Associated Press Newswires. September 8, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  9. Chong, Shin Yen. “‘World War 3 is coming, so…’Slay the demons, Save the world…’ ‘Die first, be resurrected as slayers…’”. The New Paper. September 9, 2009. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  10. Aw, Cheng Wei. “2 boys die after suspected fall from block”. The Straits Times. August 24, 2008. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
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  14. Aqil, Haziq Mahmud. “‘I thought of my mother’: Moving on from the teenage suicide pact that shook Singapore”. Channel News Asia. August 18, 2018. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/teenage-slayers-suicide-pact-that-shook-singapore-moving-on-10606186  
  15. Aqil, Haziq Mahmud. “‘I thought of my mother’: Moving on from the teenage suicide pact that shook Singapore”. Channel News Asia. August 18, 2018. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/teenage-slayers-suicide-pact-that-shook-singapore-moving-on-10606186
  16. “Leader had strong hold over group”. The Straits Times. September 17, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
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  20. Chong Shin Yen. “‘Clueless about what slayers are’ ‘No one would believe us’ ‘But being slayer most important thing’”. The New Paper. September 10, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
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  35. Quek, Carolyn. “Teen cowered under blanket as friends jumped”. The Straits Times. September 17, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
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  45. Retrieved from: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/snes/574852-slayers/images/114262
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  56. Chong, Shin Yen. “‘World War 3 is coming, so…’Slay the demons, Save the world…’ ‘Die first, be resurrected as slayers…’”. The New Paper. September 9, 2009. Accessed on 22 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
  57. Ong, Dai Lin. “Peer influence the culprit”. Today. September 17, 2009. Accessed on 21 October 2019. Retrieved from Factiva.
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  59. “Fixed-term-tenancy---tenancy-agreement”. Housing and Development Board. Accessed on 23 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/doc/fixed-term-tenancy---tenancy-agreement
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