CHINA> Regional
Sichuan earthquake claims new victim
By Hu Yinan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-21 08:00

Another official involved in Sichuan earthquake relief efforts has committed suicide ahead of the tragedy's one-year anniversary next month.

Sichuan earthquake claims new victim
Feng Xiang and his son, who was killed during the deadly earthquake in May last year in Sichuan Province. [China Daily] 

Feng Xiang, 33, deputy head of the publicity department in Beichuan county, took his life at home on Sunday, local police said.

The former elementary school teacher's eight-year-old son was killed in the May 12 earthquake, which resulted in at least 90,000 people being killed or missing and left close to 2 million homeless.

Twenty-four of his students at Beichuan Middle School were killed. The school lost more than 1,000 students in the deadly earthquake.

Feng worked tirelessly during disaster relief efforts and was promoted to the publicity post in June, Xinhua News Agency reported.

In December, he attended a training course that included information about "post-disaster mental health assistance".

Feng left behind a note that was published by his friend on a website yesterday. In it, Feng wrote to his wife that depression was his "closest friend".

"Depression shall take away all sorrows when it takes me away," he wrote.

Feng had earlier sympathized with Dong Yufei, Beichuan's agriculture and disaster relief director, who took his own life last October.

Dong, whose son and nephew were killed in the earthquake, left behind a note in which he wrote that: "I feel too much pressure from life and work every day. I cannot hold on any further".

Feng said of Dong in January: "He was under too much pressure and was struggling under the weight."

A number of other officials in Mianyang city, to which Beichuan is a subsidiary, have also taken their own life for similar reasons. Among them is the city's human resources chief, He Zonghua, who threw himself out of a hotel window last November. Zhang Wei, a psychologist and deputy head of West China Hospital, said that depression can set in after an initial period of stress.