China / Society

Faster care needed for depression sufferers

( Updated: 2014-09-11 19:10

Faster care needed for depression sufferers

The 23-year-old Xiaoli (alias) can still feel the lingering fear one year after her failed attempt to leap to her death.

In 2013, Xiaoli came to Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan province, to find a job but ended up being tricked out of her money. Feeling hopeless, she climbed out of the balcony of a hotel. When she looked down, she was so scared by the height that she called the police for help.

Xiaoli was saved. As a matter of fact, at least 95 percent of suicides can be avoided by mental health intervention or timely rescue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),

But many people are not as lucky as Xiaoli. In Sichuan province, more than 50 percent of sufferers of depression, the leading cause of suicides, didn't get timely treatment, according to West China City Daily.

Many patients with depression didn't seek treatment because they failed to recognize their illness, said Zhou Bo, an expert in psychosomatic disease with Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital. People tend to mistakenly simplify depression as feeling down. "Drug therapy is also widely used in depression treatment besides psychological intervention. It's a real disease", Zhou said.

People with depression are 20 times more likely to take their own lives than people who are not depressed, according to the WHO.

Ten years ago, about six out of every 100 citizens in Sichuan suffered from depression. The number has risen to 10 today. The provincial emergency center receives two suicide cases daily on average. Teenage suicide in the region is also on the rise.

In terms of prevention, experts suggest that people should pay more attention to their psychological status and receive medical care when problems occur. Life education and psychological consultation should also be strengthened in schools and families, Zhou said.

Depression is taking a heavy toll on China. Since 1998, it has stood as the second-most commonly diagnosed illness in China after heart disease. A 2007 study by Hu Dewei, a professor at University of California-Berkeley, and the Shanghai Mental Health Center, found lost work days and other financial burdens brought China's annual price tag for depression to 51.37 billion yuan.

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