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Pressure on students causes social problems
Updated: 2004-04-10 21:58

A recent campus serial murder, hyped up by the media into an event in China, has aroused concern about psychological pressure on college students in the country.

The manslayer, named Ma Jiajue and a former life science major at Yunnan University in the southwestern province, was described by some media as a hardworking, poor student with fragile self-esteem and warped mentality, which were subtly implied by the media as main factors behind the crime.

Psychological concerns triggered by the event have been echoed by a series of campus suicides.

A college girl in Hebei province, north China, jumped recently from the 12th story of a building to commit suicide. In her suicide note, she said that emotional pain due to poverty and accidental misfortune were unbearable to her and she felt death was the only option to end the pain.

It is reported that in late March a student from the Law Department of Beijing University hanged himself from a tree at Fragrance Hill in the suburbs of the national capital, and another college girl committed suicide in the same manner at her own dormitory.

Sociologists estimate that approximately 100 college students killed themselves in each of the past few years. The top three causes of the deaths were failing examinations, difficulties in paying tuition and disappointment in love.

Meanwhile, psychological pressures also came from job hunting, acute competition for post-graduate education and love affairs, the sociologists note.

The growing number of college graduates is aggravating competition in the domestic labor market. This summer the number will reach about 2.8 million, as against 2.1 million last year, when only 70 percent of them found jobs, according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

"It seems that I would flare up and be driven to violence as soon as I saw a person wearing a smile," said a student surnamed Zhang at the prestigious Hebei University of Science and Technology based in Shijiazhuang, capital city of north China's Hebei province. He said he had attended four interviews at a human resources exchange fair in the city but failed to find an appropriate job opportunity.

Zhang was far from unique among his schoolmates. The ridiculous hostile mentality stemmed from the anxious or depressive illness of the job hunters who had just finished a dozen years of hard learning, according to a counselor with the Psychiatry Department of the No. 1 Hospital affiliated to the Hebei Medical University.

At present, most of the institutions of higher learning on the Chinese mainland concentrate on providing employment information for graduating students, says a counselor from a mental healthcare center for college students in Shijiazhuang. She believes that it is imperative to help the students to build a proper, healthy mindset before they enter society.

As more jobs require higher academic degrees in China, more graduate college students are thronging into the competition for master's degrees.

The acute competition imposed high pressure on the college students, and some of them depicted their feelings waiting for the outcome of the entry exams for higher education as "being tormented mentally".

The psychological vulnerability has prompted an increasing number of college students to turn to mental health-care services for help.

In 2001, a group of psychologists good at in college student problems sponsored a psychological counseling committee to train campus counselors in Hebei province.

One year later, a research council of college mental healthcare was founded jointly by 40-strong colleges and universities in the province at Hebei University, with the provincial education bureaua the major sponsor.

With the help of the council, a well-equipped psychological counseling center has been set up at the same university, and opened two service hotlines, helping more than 200 students every year.

Identical services were launched earlier in some southern cities. The municipal education authority of Shanghai has worked out a detailed plan for the development of psychological counseling in the city, aiming to provide at least one counselor for every 1,000 college students by the year 2005.

Meanwhile, the provincial education bureau of Yunnan has recently arranged a survey of psychological health care for college students and demanded every institution of higher learning in the province set up mental healthcare files for their freshmen.

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