Alexa

Local suicide rate said to be second highest globally

Unemployment, debt cited as main factors

Local suicide rate said to be second highest globally

Taiwan has the second highest suicide rate worldwide according to the World Health Organization, the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan said yesterday, citing unemployment and debt-induced poverty as the main factors behind the trend.
According to the Department of Health, 4,282 people committed suicide last year. The figure translates means that one person commits suicide every two hours. From 1992 to 2005, 198 cases of parent-child suicide were reported. Studies show that 51.3 percent of the people who committed suicide chose to asphyxiate themselves by burning coal.
Director-general of the Peacetime Foundation Chien Hsi-chieh said that in the last six years, 16,247 people in Taiwan had committed suicide. The figure is seven times higher than the number of casualties during the devastating 921 Earthquake in 1999, he pointed out.
"Taiwan is now filled with hatred and intolerance," Chien said. "We hope that in a new year resolution, members of the public would develop more compassion and kindness toward each other."
Chien said that many people choose to end their lives as a means of escaping massive credit card debts.
As of 2006, the total sum of rollover credit card debt in Taiwan amounted to over NT$800 billion, accumulated by the 600,000 plus so-called credit card slaves in the country. Lifeline Association of Taipei estimates that 25 percent of the people who committed suicide in 2005 were jobless.
Former Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs Head Liao Hsien-hau said one of the ways to live a better and harmonious life to "simplify" ones desire for material goods.
Suicide has also become the 14th leading cause of death among Taiwanese adolescents.
Cheng Chih-ching, president of the Suicide Prevention Association, said stress from relationships, family or schoolwork are the major factors that drive children and teenagers to take their own lives.
In addition to the low frustration tolerance, inability to feel quality of life, kinship and friendship is also a common problem that leads to emotional disturbance among these children and teenagers, which puts them at high risk of committing suicide, Cheng said.
She said a 0800-555-911 hotline launched by the association is aimed at providing elementary and junior high school students with a channel to vent their emotions. There are 30 volunteers on standby to receive calls from troubled teens between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. every day.
According to a Department of health report, 31 people under the age of 14 years have committed suicide over the past five years, making suicide the 14th-most-common cause of death among children and teenagers.
Ministry of Education tallies also show an upward trend in the occurrence of suicides among students in Taiwan, rising from 55 cases in 2003 to 70 cases in 2004.
Some 90 students committed suicide between January and October in 2005, while another 16 killed themselves in November alone, the figures show.