Monday, June 19, 2006

In China, one woman kills herself every four minutes

Christopher Allen:

According to World Health Organisation statistics, China is the only country in the world where more women commit suicide than men.

Every year, 1.5 million women attempt to take their own lives, and a further 150,000 succeed in doing so.

The problem is worse in rural areas, where the suicide rate is three times higher than in the cities.

Xu Rong, head of the Suicide Prevention Project at the Beijing Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women, says one of the reasons is the ready availability of poisons in agricultural areas.

"It's all too easy to get hold of pesticides," she says. "Some women commit suicide impulsively. A husband and wife may have a bitter fight. When it's over, the woman just grabs some poison and drinks it."

Suicide attempts may often be impulsive, but they are the result of burdens that weigh heavily on the shoulders of rural women.

Marriage is a big issue where traditional attitudes still prevail.

Many marriages are arranged and operate like business deals in which the groom's parents "buy" the bride, and she becomes part of their family.

Xu Rong believes this leads to emotional problems for young wives who leave their own family and friends to enter an alien environment.

"They have their father-in-law to deal with, their mother-in-law, various uncles, sisters-in-law and so on. She's got to gain everyone's acceptance. When there are conflicts, she's the weakest."

Particularly in arranged marriages, where the husband may sense his wife is unwilling to be with him, resentment can build up, leading to arguments and violence.

Xu Rong estimates that 70-80% of suicides are the direct result of conflicts between husbands and wives.

Over 200 suicides recorded in first four months of this year, DOH says

In China, suicide in young women is a problem too

Suicide blights China's women

China's Suicide Patterns Challenge Depression Theory

Female Suicide in China

China Has World's Highest Female Suicide Rate

Suicide: China's Great Wall of Silence

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