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Chinese school kids driven to suicide due to pressure of exams

May 28, 2014

A majority of Chinese schoolchildren are driven to suicide due to the overwhelming psychological pressure of an exam-oriented education system, according to the findings of a recent study.
Every year, roughly 250,000 people commit suicide in China, including 500 primary and middle school students, while another 2 million attempt to cut short their lives, according to the Chinese Ministry of Health.

A study of 79 such suicides by China’s Centre for Disease Control last year found that almost 93 percent occurred following arguments between the pupils and their teachers, or after the students experienced heavy pressure with their studies.

Most killed themselves because “they could not bear the heavy pressure of the test-oriented education system”, said the state-run China Daily citing the study.

Suicide topped the list of cause for people’s death aged 15 to 34 although the highest incidence is among elderly and rural women. Unfortunately, many were not finding the help they needed, the report said.

“Young people in China are under a huge amount of stress, but they have few places where they can talk to someone about their woes,” said Lin Kunhui, founder of Life Education and Crisis Intervention Centre, a non-profit organisation in Shanghai.

In December, his centre launched the city’s first 24-hour suicide hotline, and within a month it had received 632 calls, mostly from white-collar workers aged 23 to 35.

The main reasons were the pressure to behave well and feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The study found that from 1995 to 1999, China’s suicide rate reached 0.023 percent, one of the highest in the world, although in recent years, the rate has dropped. However, suicidal trend among young people in recent years has raised concerns.

Depression increases the risk of someone attempting suicide by as much as 20 times, according to the study, with anxiety disorders increasing the risk by six to 10 times and alcohol abuse by six times.

“There must be a platform for young people to speak out whenever they feel anxious or in trouble,” said Zhang Qi, deputy director of the psychological counselling centre at East China Normal University.

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