Monday, 24 November 2003

Beijing (Fides Service) – China has launched a national plan to address the serious problem of suicide. The government has ordered a study to find ways to prevent depression. Last year Beijing opened an Assistance Centre offering 24 hour counselling to people suffering from depression or inclined to suicide.
According to a Spanish news agency EFE, suicide is a major problem in China where every year an average of 280,000 people take their own lives more than half of them women aged between 15 and 35 and not only in cities but increasingly also in rural areas.
China is concerned because the number is 10 times higher than suicide cases recorded in Japan and the United States where the number is about 30.000. In Japan the causes are usually economic, while in the United States most cases are due to psychiatric disturbances.
“In China mental infirmity causes only 63% of the suicides, while in the West it is the cause of 90%”, say experts of the Centre for Investigation of Suicides and the Prevention and Control of Chronic Infirmity. Chinese doctors say the increase in the number of suicides is due not only to spreading depression but also to China’s rapid economic development and consequent social changes and to a national health system lacking structures to treat mental illness.
In fact China, with its population of 1.2 billion, has only 14.000 psychiatrists, and only in the past ten years have illnesses such as depression, anxiety schizophrenia been publicly recognised.
Many suicides in rural areas are due to ingestion of pesticides which leave no chance for medical intervention, said Hans Bekedam World Health Organisation representative in Beijing.
WHO reports a growing numbers of child suicides, especially among children who have no brothers and sisters. The child, under constant pressure of ambitious and often excessively protective parents, cannot deal with failure at school or in interpersonal relations.
According to an official survey 27% of primary school children and 32% middle school pupils suffer from psychological problems and some even try to commit suicide. (PA) (Fides Service 24/11/2003 lines 34 words 394)