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On the subject of suicide, I thought the following article from the HongKong
South China Morning Post might shed some perspective on the subject:
Monday, May 20, 2002
Suicide figures climb to record high
Economic downturn blamed for big increase in middle-aged victims as death
rate rises by 20pc
The suicide rate hit an all-time high in the first half of last year due to
a big increase in the number of middle-aged victims, according to new
Data released by the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Suicide Research
and Prevention showed the suicide rate for the January to June period last
year was 15.8 per 100,000 of the population - a 20 per cent increase from
the overall 2000 rate of 13.2.
The jump was mainly attributed to an estimated 47 per cent rise in the
suicide rate in the 35 to 44 age group.
Dr Paul Yip Siu-fai, the director of the centre, said there were 130 suicide
cases in that age group between January and June last year. That compares
with 177 suicides in the whole of 2000.
Dr Yip said many middle-aged people who were raised in times of prosperity
were particularly vulnerable to the pressures of economic hardship. There
was a similar disproportionate rise in the middle-aged suicide rate in 1998,
in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
"Most [middle-aged victims] would have had a happy childhood when our
economy started taking off in the late 1960s and early 1970s," he said.
"They had not experienced war and hunger that the older generations suffered
when they were young. Those [now middle-aged] tend to become more vulnerable
to setbacks such as financial hardship. This may explain why we have a high
suicide rate among them nowadays during an economic downturn."
The suicide rate among men between 25 and 39 has more than doubled since
1983, from 9.47 per 100,000 to 20.3 in 2000.
The overall suicide rate of 15.8 was based on the official record of 532
suicide cases in the first half of last year.
The increase in suicides corresponded with a decline in the economy.
Unemployment has been steadily rising, and hit a record seven per cent in
the first quarter of this year.
There were a record 9,151 bankruptcies last year, but the 5,810 cases for
the first four months of this year put 2002 on track to beat that.
Until last year, the highest suicide rate recorded was in 1976, when it
reached 13.52 per 100,000. Another peak was encountered in 1973, when the
rate jumped to 13.1 as the stock market suffered a calamitous crash, losing
nearly 80 per cent of its value between March and Christmas.
The suicide rates in 1987 and 1981, when Hong Kong was hit by crashes of the
stock market and property market respectively, were 11.1 and 9.6.
Between 1977 and 1997, the suicide rate stayed below 13 per 100,000.
It hit 13.2 in 1998 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
Psychiatry professor Dr Lee Sing from the Chinese University said people
with suicidal tendencies suffered symptoms such as insomnia, depression,
chest discomfort, fatigue and headaches.
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