Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Please hold the line

Nine out of 10 Chinese calling into a suicide-prevention hotline in the capital Beijing are getting the busy tone, a newspaper said on Monday, adding that nationwide four people were killing themselves every minute. So far, more than 110,000 people had dialed in to the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center hotline since it was set up in Beijing last year, the China Daily said.

It quoted an expert as saying poverty, unemployment, bereavement, breakdowns in relationships or legal and work-related problems were all causes. But a lack of funds meant that not everyone who needed the hotline was getting through, said Michael Phillips, executive director of the suicide prevention center. "Nine of every 10 persons only hear a busy tone," he told the newspaper. "It's very dangerous because they may be at high risk of committing suicide." Stress in urban China has increased with 20 years of economic reforms, increased competition, job losses, breakup of the traditional family unit in the cities and the dismantlement of cradle-to-grave welfare benefits.

According to numbers released by doctors working at the Beijing Psychological Crisis Research Center, every year over 250,000 people commit suicide in China; this represents one-fourth of the total number of suicides in the world. Ever 2 minutes in China, a person commits suicide. Over 2,000,000 people attempt suicide in China every year but are unsuccessful.

Suicide is the number one cause of death in China among people 15 to 34 years old. Chinese living in rural areas commit suicide 3 times more than those in urban areas. Chinese women commit suicide 3 times more than men. 28% of Chinese suicides have never had formal schooling of any sort.