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Suicide, chief killer of young people
( 2003-09-11 09:20) (China Daily)

Since the mid-1990s, there have been about 250,000 suicides every year in China, with suicide ranking as the chief cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 34.

Duoduo (centre), 11 years old, lies in bed as her mother (left) and younger sister weep in a hospital in Pingdingshan, Central China's Henan Province. Duoduo was saved after trying to commit suicide by jumping from the sixth floor of a building. [newsphoto.com.cn]

But many of them might not have chosen suicide, if people around them had been more sensitive and caring, Zhang Xiaoli, a leading expert with the Beijing Psychological Crisis Research and Intervention Centre, told China Daily Wednesday, the first World Suicide Prevention Day.

According to Zhang, about 50 per cent of the Chinese suicides might have been committed after no more than two hours' consideration, and 37 per cent after only a few minutes of desperate contemplation. This is reflected in the fact that many would-be suicides are extremely grateful when rescued from the grip of death.

"Most people considering suicide are caught up in unusual emotional circumstances, such as excessive anger or extreme depression. If people around them notice this and do something, many of them can be saved," Zhang said.

The centre's statistics indicate that about 2 million Chinese attempt suicide unsuccessfully every year.

A recent report of the World Health Organization says that over 90 per cent of the suicides in foreign countries suffer from mental problems. But in China 37 per cent of the suicides choose killing themselves as a way to escape daily pressure or disappointments.

"This is not right. Because it indicates the country lacks adequate support mechanisms," Zhang said.

"Not many Chinese have realized the importance of professional help. Only 7 per cent of suicides seek professional help before trying to take their own lives."

Besides young people, women are another group of people susceptible to thoughts of suicide in China. Different from the situation in foreign countries, more Chinese women than men kill themselves, according to a report issued by the centre.

"This has much to do with the heavy pressure on Chinese women, who have to work hard both in the workplace and at home," said Xie Hua from the Hongfeng Hotline for Women, one of the oldest organizations in China devoted to helping women suffering mental crises.

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