Suicide is the number one cause of death among people between 20 and 35 years old in China, where an estimated quarter of a million people a year - or 685 a day - take their lives, state media said on Monday.
Each year an additional 2.5 million to 3.5 million Chinese unsuccessfully attempt suicide, which stood as the fifth major cause of death among the country’s 1.3 billion people, the China Daily said.
Disproportionate rates of suicide and depression among young people appear to be a direct result of increasing stress in China’s rapidly changing society.
“Society is full of pressure and competition, so young people, lacking experience in dealing with difficulties, tend to get depressed,” Liu Hong, a Beijing psychiatrist, was quoted as saying.
More than 60 percent of people who took part in a survey of 15,431 Chinese suffering depression over the past two years were in their 20s or 30s, the newspaper said.
The escalating problem had drawn increasing concern from the government and public alike, leading to the creation of a national, 24-hour free suicide prevention hotline in August 2003.
Since then, more than 220,000 people had called the number, though Canadian Michael Phillips, executive director of the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Centre, said only one in 10 callers could get through on the first try.
“That is very dangerous because most of the callers are anxious and may commit suicide impulsively,” Phillips was quoted as saying.
lung cancer and traffic accidents are the biggest causes of death in China.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD