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Suicide cases ring alarm bell
By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-03 06:10

GUANGZHOU: A university in southern China will evaluate the psychological well-being of students and increase counselling services following four suicides on campus in less than two weeks.

While local media have reported that the four deaths were not linked, "the tragedies have rung an alarm bell," said Jiang Huisheng, a top offcial of South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou. "We must prevent similar tragedies from happening again," he said, adding that all four had psychological problems.

On February 20, a freshman majoring in statistics jumped from the top of his apartment building ;

On February 22, a laboratory worker jumped from the sixth floor of a building;

On February 26, a third-year woman postgraduate majoring in soil chemistry jumped from the ninth floor of a building;

And in the latest case on March 1, another female postgraduate student, in her last year of studies, jumped from a building.

The freshman wrote in his diary that he decided to end his life because he was frustrated that his parents would not allow him to quit school although his academic performance was bad.

The soil chemistry student killed herself because her parents opposed her six-year affair with her boyfriend. She also felt great pressure in finishing her dissertation and finding a good job.

"We need to better understand our students and teach them how to value and respect life," Jiang said.

The university held its first seminar on mental health for postgraduates on Wednesday to teach them how to cope with pressure and tension.

The university will recruit more psychology teachers and 200 counsellors to help students fight frustration. It will also set up more facilities for psychological consultation services at least one in each school.

Zhan Chunyun, a doctor with Guangzhou Kangning Psychological Consultation Expert Clinic, told China Daily: "Suicides can be contagious. After one such case, others who have their own frustrations might just follow suit."

He suggested that universities take pre-emptive steps, specially paying attention to students from poor families, those who are not doing well in studies or those involved in relationships gone sour.

(China Daily 03/03/2006 page2)

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