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Students Seek Extra Psychology Courses

A focus on psychological health should be compulsory for Chinese college students, experts and teachers said yesterday at a suicide prevention seminar.
"It is estimated that 10 out of every 100,000 Chinese college students once attempted suicide," said Fan Fumin, a psychology professor with Tsinghua University, at the four-day seminar.
"Though in a small number, it has a serious impact upon society since these young people are the future of the nation."
Most college teachers are starting to feel it is more and more of a necessity to give psychology-related courses to every single student.
"Our school has had such courses since 1999, but there are only 10 classes per semester," said Li Mingguo, an associate professor with Shandong Laiyang Agricultural College.
"The course is selective and devised for only 170 students per class, however the classroom is always filled with more than 200 students."
Li said the students are urging the school to make the course compulsory or hold it more frequently, but "we are short of related professional teachers."
The college has only one full-time psychologist and two psychology teachers, but about 16,600 students.
Even in large universities like Tsinghua, the 25,000-odd students can turn to only 19 psychologists, only five of which are full-time.
"The State has begun to realize the problem. But it is more important for college authorities to pay more attention and put more resources into psychology education," Fan pointed out.
"We discover that most college students lack an understanding of death, so it is significant to encourage them to think positively about life and death."
According to Fan, sophomores and juniors are more likely to attempt suicide since "they stand at the crossroads, wondering what they can do or what they like to do next."
Also, schools tend to give less care to these students than to freshmen and seniors, assuming that they have been accustomed to college life.

(China Daily November 15, 2004)


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