At least 2 million Chinese try to kill themselves each year and about 250,000 of them succeed, making suicide a serious social issue, according to mental health experts.
Figures disclosed in Beijing Tuesday confirm an early estimation by the Ministry of Health that about 22 people out of every 100,000 people across the country commit suicide every year, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The suicide rate in China is above the level in the United States, Canada, and Britain, but lower than in some eastern European nations such as Hungary and Lithuania, where the ratio stands between 40 and 50 suicide cases per 100,000 people, said Professor Zhai Shutao, a suicide researcher.
In spite of the Confucian teaching deeply rooted among Chinese that one's body given by his or her parents should never be hurt, a growing number of people in China have chosen to take their own lives in the 20th century, Zhai said.
However, scientific research has only been made in recent decades. It found that rural people and females run a higher risk of suicide than urban residents and males, and the suicide rates of young and old people are particularly high.
Zhai said the reasons why humans commit suicide are complicated. For example, some are too fragile to bear setbacks or grief. And some hurt themselves because of mental disorders.
"Sufferers of mental disorders, particularly depression, run a very high risk of suicide," he said.
Out of 1.3 billion people in China, about 16 million suffer from serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, and an additional 6 million people suffer from epilepsy, vice health minister Yin Dakui said at a national conference on mental health Tuesday.
About 30 million children under the age of 17 are plagued by psychological and behavioral problems, and old-age mental problems and alcoholic and drug dependence are also emerging as health problems, he said.
Zhai said crisis intervention and preventive efforts can help lower the suicide rate in the country.
(Eastday.com October 31, 2001)