Chinese Suicide Rate Climbs
A TWO-year-old boy was orphaned in the southwest Chinese city of Chongzhou when his parents drank pesticide after a nasty row.
The tragedy, reported in the state media last month, bears testimony to the dark side of reform – suicide rates that are now among the highest in the world.
On average, a Chinese person takes his or her own life every two minutes, giving the world’s most populous nation a dismal record as it prepares to celebrate 30 years of otherwise spectacular economic reform.
“With the reforms, society has become more complicated,” said Huo Datong, the first psychoanalyst to practise in China.
“Individualism has become more pronounced and psychological problems have become more and more serious,” he said from Chengdu, a city in the southwest.
Since reform kicked off in 1978, the Middle Kingdom has been through enormous upheavals and so has the psyche of its 1.3 billion people.
Society has been uprooted as traditional family and clan structures have disintegrated, straining social relations and putting the individual under immense stress, experts say.
In just one generation, China’s millennia-old civilisation has become one dedicated almost entirely to profit, with profound consequences.
In the overall rush to get rich, a culture of competition places huge pressure not least on children, who usually have no siblings and face almost impossible expectations from their parents to be successful.
In a country where three or even four generations used to live under one roof, the elderly are now abandoned – once an almost unthinkable crime – while rural migrants go to the cities to work, leaving their children behind.
“We see more patients in psychiatric hospitals who are there because the economic development has caused old family bonds to dissolve. People are more isolated from others,” said Dr Huo.
It is a time of unprecedented possibilities for education, leisure and travel and more people are allowed to climb the social ladder than ever before.
But at the same time many Chinese succumb to a frightening sense of insecurity.
In the past, the Communist Party regulated everyone’s lives, guaranteeing the “iron rice bowl” of government support from cradle to grave.
This is no longer the case and many Chinese have lost their footing.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 at 12:00 pm and is filed under China. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.