September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Timely, since our latest podcast is “The Paradox of Suicide.” It focuses on the specter of suicide and how, strangely, it tends to be more prevalent in rich societies than in poor ones.
One country not mentioned in the podcast is China, where suicide is definitely a cultural problem. Yesterday, China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that China’s official suicide rate is among the highest in the world. It’s so high, that someone tries to kill themselves every two minutes. Roughly 287,000 people commit suicide each year, out of a population of 1.3 billion. From the AFP:
The disease control centre said suicide is the biggest killer among Chinese aged 15 to 34.
Extreme pressure to perform well at school and to find employment were the main reasons behind the high rate of suicide among China’s youths, media said.
The suicide rate in rural areas is three times higher than in urban centres and accounts for 75 percent of China’s suicide total, it said.
According to the Guangzhou Daily, the number of suicides in China has risen sharply during the reform and open period, when the nation’s economy has boomed.
A state-run media outlet reports that China’s suicides are up 60 percent in the past 50 years. When Stephen Dubner was in China earlier this year, he saw this compelling story in China Daily about a boy who was on the brink of killing himself.