‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 39
Around 250,000 people kill themselves every year in China, according to statistics from China’s Ministry of Health. To put this another way – every two minutes of each hour, 24/7, eight Chinese people kill themselves. The figure of 250,000 is those whose deaths are reported as suicide. It does not include the suicide deaths that are hushed up or attributed to other causes.
A further two million people attempt suicide annually, according to statistics from 2003, the latest year for which information is available to us at the time of writing. Furthermore these two million attempts were just the ones that ended up in hospital, indicating a far higher true total.
Even more shocking, of these two million, “less than one percent receive psychiatric assessment and guidance during the emergency treatment” said Chinese media.
The suicide death toll among today’s Chinese citizens is beyond the ability of government officials to calculate accurately. According to the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center, which was set up in 2003 by the Society of Neurology and Psychiatry of the Chinese Medical Association and Beijing’s Huilongguan Hospital, the figure is 23 suicides per 100,000 people. Based on an official population of 1.3 billion, that’s almost 300,000 suicides a year.
Suicide is the number one killer of Chinese people between the ages of 15 and 34. Surprising, when you consider the burgeoning economy and new-found ‘freedoms’ offered by the state that pronounces stability and harmony as its watchwords. In a country where young people have everything to live for, they are ending their lives at a rate that surely must make government leaders question the speed of change that is overtaking the Chinese people in the name of progress.
My only question here, to all those Chinese citizens leaving comments to defend China -- why is it that so many of your fellow citizens are killing themselves? If China is ‘getting better every day,’ why the huge death toll?
‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 40
The suicide rate among women is 25% higher than among men, and rural suicide rates are three times higher than urban rates. The causes of suicide in rural areas tend to arise out of different factors, most commonly poverty and domestic abuse, with women suffering by far the most.
According to Xu Rong, who works with the Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women, “Most suicides in rural areas start with small quarrels between couples…Some of them are accidental; some are actually rooted in unhappy marriages.”
In China’s countryside, there is great pressure on young women to conform to society’s expectations of traditional marriage, meaning many arranged marriages.
Many marriages are not based on love, and, says Xu Rong, “Rural men tend to be reluctant to express their love or care for their spouses, who have more romantic emotions.”
One of the problems that Xu Rong’s organization faces is that it remains very small scale. She says that when the project began she faced criticism because people felt suicide was a “private issue.” Even though the project soon began to achieve good results, it only served six villages in three rural counties.
Acknowledging this problem, Liu Denggao, a vice-director at the Ministry of Agriculture, said his ministry would restrict production of the most poisonous insecticides, change the color and smell of poisons, package chemicals in small amounts, and educate the public about appropriate uses and storage of pesticides. He was speaking as a workshop on a National Suicide Prevention Plan for China in 2003.
In 2006, Xu Rong said it was still too easy for women to obtain pesticides, three years after the Ministry of Agriculture had said it would address the problem.
Lethal pesticides today are freely available off the shelf, are inappropriately stored in home environments, and this inexpensive answer to a moment’s anger or feeling of depression too readily is the answer taken.
Early in 2007, a young woman was preparing to kill herself in the central city of Chongqing. As she stood, ready to jump off a six-storey building, a crowd gathered below.
Some yelled for her to jump, and some phoned friends to “come and enjoy the spectacle.” Others were upset she had not jumped before the emergency services arrived to try and talk her down. One young man sat in the window of an opposite building playing his guitar to entertain the crowds. When the emergency services persuaded the woman to give up the attempt, the crowd below booed. The unfolding of tragedy before the eyes of many Chinese citizens is today viewed with a sense of pleasure.
‘T’ for Tibet and ‘X’ for Xinjiang. Make the signs every chance you get. Tibet and Xinjiang will one day regain the freedom China has taken from them!