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Suicide increase leads to debate among public
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-10 06:12

SHANGHAI: Two subway suicides this week on consecutive days have led to increased concern over the new phenomenon.

A middle-aged man committed suicide by jumping onto the tracks of the city's Line 1 at Xujiahui Station yesterday afternoon at about 1:10 pm. He died immediately.

Witness saw the body, wrapped in white, being carried away.

The line has resumed operations.

There is currently no information about who the man was and why he chose to die.

The day before, at Zhongshan Park Station on Line 2, there was another suicide.

A 52-year-old man, who was later identified as being called Wang, jumped off the platform at about 9 am as the train was pulling into the station.

He was taken to the nearby Tongren Hospital, but died after three hours' treatment for head injuries.

Yin Wei, an official from Shanghai Metro Operation Co, said the local media's publicity of the earlier accident might have induced the second man to act in a similar way.

"Such things happened last year," said Yin.

"When one accident was revealed, there were more suicide attempts."

Shanghai metro lines have witnessed more and more suicides in recent years.

Statistics shows that at least 65 attempted subway suicides have occurred since the city first subway line was opened in 1995. There have been 48 deaths.

It is said that suicides disturb the subway's smooth operation more than technical failures.

"On average, there are eight suicides every year, and each of them delays the service by at least half an hour," said an industry insider.

"Last year only seven delays were caused by faults."

The Shanghai Metro has started constructing security doors, which are installed at the edge of platforms, to block any approach to the railway track. By the end of next year, all stations from Shanghai Railway Station to Xinzhuang will have been equipped with the doors.

Yin said the doors could help prevent suicides.

But he added that the subway should not take responsibility for the deaths.

"Suicide is a social problem," said Yin.

"People will attempt to kill themselves regardless of what we do."

A professor at Shanghai East China Normal University said many people chose to commit suicide on the subway because it most closely relates to the way people live their lives today.

Doctor Shan Huaihai, from Xuhui Psychiatric Health Centre, said, "With recent social developments, it is natural that many people will have psychological problems and will attempt to commit suicide when they cannot solve them.

"What we need to do is to build a prevention system."

A team of experts, doctors and volunteers has been formed to study and help prevent suicides in the city.

(China Daily 06/10/2005 page3)

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