--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates
Hotel Service
China Calendar

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Suicide Prevention Team Established in Shanghai

When Ms Ye regained consciousness after emergency treatment at Shanghai Gongli Hospital, she was astonished to find so many caring faces. The people around her -- members of Shanghai's first voluntary suicide intervention team -- were there to support, not judge. 


The 20-something Ye, from Jiangsu Province, had cut her wrists after she was fired from her job. Pale and depressed, she wouldn't speak.


Chen Beiyi, one of 30 volunteers, was in training at the time of the incident.


"It was totally not what we expected," Chen says. "We were in the classroom upstairs at the hospital and it was the first opportunity for us to put what we'd learned into practice."


It wasn't as easy as Chen had thought. Seeing so many strange faces, Ye became hysterical. "Get away," she shouted at the volunteers, who were eager to lend her a hand.


Finally, the serene voice of volunteer Dai Wenlong calmed her and she began to talk about her boss and family.


"The point of suicide intervention is to build up a sense of trust between two people," said Dai later. "Emotional release is an essential phase. Venting depression and anger through discussion is a good way to prevent another suicide attempt."


Professor Hui Xiaoping, a physician in the hospital's emergency room, has treated more than 40 attempted suicides since April.


"Depression is the main cause of suicide," Professor Hui says. "In a fast-paced modern society where people feel more pressure, suicide has become a growing problem."


The World Health Organization reports that about 1 million people commit suicide around the world every year, and the number of those who attempt it is 10 to 20 times higher.


The global suicide rate is about 16 per 100,000, making it the 13th most common cause of death.


In China, the figures are even more distressing.


According to a survey conducted by the Beijing Psychological Crisis Research and Intervention Center, more than 200,000 people in China take their own lives every year. That puts the suicide rate in China at more than 20 per 100,000 and makes it the fifth most common cause of death.


Rural women form the largest group of suicides in the country. China is the only nation in the world where more women commit suicide than men.


The WHO launched a global suicide prevention initiative in 1999 and in 2003 the first World Suicide Prevention Day was held on September 10.


"Sadly, many people commit suicide on impulse," says Professor Hui. "If intervention is timely, most suicidal thoughts can be prevented."


But suicide intervention is still a new idea in China. Although it is common in the United States, Japan and Sweden, many Chinese people have only heard about it on TV.


Take My Word for It is a popular Hong Kong TV series that portrays a special suicide intervention team. The program's success on the mainland has prompted discussion and thought about the issue.


"To some extent, I was encouraged by the TV series," says a volunteer who declined to be named. The first group of volunteers has received training in basic psychology, with practical lessons and presentations by experts in the field.


"In addition to a loving heart, all the volunteers are required to have psychology backgrounds," says Dr. Shan Huaihai of the Xuhui District Mental Health Center. Shan is also the director of the Shanghai Suicide Intervention Group.


Made up of experienced local psychologists, the group was established last year and began to recruit volunteers in June. It is the first of its kind in the city and follows similar moves in Beijing and Nanjing.


In the near future, the group hopes to send more volunteers to the major hospitals, where doctors can mend bodies but not minds. "Without psychological assistance, a suicide threat still exists," Shan says.


From October, the volunteers will offer free counseling to patients at Shanghai Gongli Hospital every Saturday. Under the guidance of a psychologist, they will be there talk, listen and sometimes persuade.


"Many Chinese people still adhere to the traditional idea that you don't wash your dirty linen in public," Shan explains. "It's different from people in Western countries. Here it is considered embarrassing to ask for psychological help."


Shan and his volunteers are fighting a funding battle as well.


Currently the group only receives funding from local hospitals like Gongli Hospital. "But it's not enough for us to conduct large-scale surveys and research in the future," Shan says. "We're now applying for governmental assistance in suicide prevention programs."


"The local government considers the psychological health of the people very important," says Zhang Kan, of the Shanghai Health Bureau. "A special mental counseling hot line and Website have already been established, and caring for suicidal people is on our itinerary."


Shan says while the suicide rate in Shanghai is not high -- around 10 per 100,000 -- it's still a concern for society as a whole. "People should never hesitate to extend their love and care to the people who are suicidal and in urgent need of help," he says.


(Shanghai Daily September 10, 2004)


HK Suicide Rate Over the Global Average
World Suicide Prevention Day Due for Tomorrow
Family Doubts Student's Death
Volunteers to Fail Suicides
Suicide Attempts Rise
Girls Suicide over Heavy School Load
Mental Crisis Center to Help Stop Suicide
Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688