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Tragic end for the boy who looked after dad

(Shanghai Daily)

08:35, September 27, 2011

In his neighbors' eyes, the 16-year-old boy was the perfect son. A shining example for their own children as a "good boy" who had quit school to take care of his paralyzed, divorced father, carrying him in and out on his back every day and doing all the housework.

But the "good boy" was found dead in the kitchen of his Shanghai home in the community on Liangchen Road at 5:40pm on Sunday.

He had hanged himself with a rope, Hongkou District police said.

Behind the death, a tragic story emerged telling why the youngster, surnamed Shao, had decided to take his own life.

Neighbors said Shao's parents got divorced while he was still just a toddler. Shao's father, unemployed and a heavy drinker, had lost the ability to walk because of his diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle.

As the only child and the only relative to the man in his forties, Shao left school three years ago to take care of his father at home. He had been unwilling to wave goodbye to school and his friends, but his father had forced him, said a community security guard surnamed Wang. The father had told Shao he was the only hope in his life.

Shao took on the responsibility of caring for his father full time. For the past three years, Shao carried him on his back from home early in the morning to put him on his electric tricycle, one designed for disabled people. The father would tour around the community, chatting, drinking with neighbors and playing mahjong.

In the afternoon, the father would stop his tricycle at the entrance of the building, sounding the horn to summon his son down to carry him back home. The boy spent the rest of his time doing the cooking, keeping the house tidy and staying at home alone, neighbors said.

"The two lived on a monthly income of about 2,400 yuan, with 1,800 yuan as the father's retirement salary and the rest as the alimony from his mother, who never bothers to visit," said Wang.

Some neighbors said the father spent most of the money on drinking and gambling.

The burden on the boy's shoulders reached its limit after the father was found to be stealing public utilities and their service was cut off last Friday.

The father ordered his son to get the utility restored, but he failed.

"You can't deal with such a small deed? Why don't you kill yourself instead," the father was heard to shout.

Two days later, when the father blew his horn to call his son down to the entrance, there was no response.

Police found his body hanging in the kitchen.

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