A medical research team in Beijing has found that the suicide rate among women in China is 25 percent higher than that of men.
The study found that females living in rural areas were three times more likely to commit suicide when faced with unresolved problems.
"It's quite different from what it is in Western countries, where the male suicide rate is 3.6 times higher than that of women," said Li Xianyun, a medical doctor with the research team in Beijing's Huilongguan Hospital.
The team began the suicide-related studies in 1995, and now provides background for government policy-making.
Scientists examined the causes of death in 20 cities across the country, and found that suicide has developed into the leading cause of death among people between 15 to 34 years of age.
Li said the phenomenon was especially severe in China's vast rural areas where people have less access to the expression of complaints and to the courts.
Believing there is no possibility of change, many women in those regions seek extreme ways to express their desperation, Li said.
The situation is better in urban areas, but sharply increased competition in modern society has also driven many vulnerable women to commit suicide as a way to escape tough problems.
Li said to decrease suicide should first focus on women.
The central government has been notified of the situation, and a large-scale epidemic research center will be established this summer based on Li's hospital. The center will provide more detailed suggestions on suicide-prevention measures.
In most Western countries, like United States and Canada, measures such as gun control and counseling systems have been adopted to prevent suicide.
Li said active prevention measures should be adopted in the country. In rural areas, for example, increasing control of poisonous pesticides would be an effective way to fight suicide, Li suggested.
But she said the most effective approach in suicide prevention is to improve the public awareness of mental health.
(China Daily April 4, 2002)