CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (9/26/2019 Thu.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (9/26/2019 Thu.)

People's Daily app

02:16, September 26, 2019



From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

Suicide ranks among the top 20 leading causes of death globally with an estimated one million people dying per year by committing suicide, which means an individual is taking their own life every 30 seconds.

China has undergone a radical transformation from being a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the 1990s to now being one of the lowest.

While suicide prevention remains a universal challenge, China has been a huge success story in recent decades contributing significantly to the global decline in suicide-related deaths, according to the latest studies.

China registered a 64 percent drop in such deaths in the 27-year period, making it the No. 1 country in suicide prevention, a study published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at what has contributed to an improvement in China’s suicide rate.


The World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is being observed on Tuesday to raise awareness about how suicide could be prevented. (Photo: VCG)

The trend in China was a major factor in the global suicide rate falling by 33 percent in that 27-year period, according to the study. The total number of deaths from suicide increased by 6.7 percent globally from 762,000 in 1990 to 884,000 in 2016, but the global suicide rate fell from 16 deaths per 100,000 people to 11.2 in the same period, the study showed.

China accounted for some 17 percent of the world's total suicides in 2016, it revealed.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, China's suicide rate in 2016 was 9.7 per 100,000, which was among the lowest globally and way below its suicide rate from the 1990s that hovered above 20 per 100,000.

The suicide rate of Denmark and the Philippines decline, trailing China's with 60 and 58 percent respectively.

On the other hand, Lesotho, with 39 deaths per 100,000 people, had the highest suicide rate in the world followed by Lithuania (31) and Russia (30.6). Lebanon had the lowest suicide rate of 2.4.

In comparison, the United States has witnessed a constant rise in suicide rates according to a new evaluation of national suicide data from 1999 to 2016 by researchers at Ohio State University.

Suicide rates jumped by 41 percent, from a median of 15 per 100,000 county residents in the first part of the study to 21.2 per 100,000 in the last three years of the analysis, the evaluation revealed. From 2014 through 2016, suicide rates were 17.6 per 100,000 in large metropolitan counties compared with 22 per 100,000 in rural counties.

"Twenty years ago, America’s rate was half China’s. Now it is twice China's," The Economist noted.


Analysts believe greater freedom and social standing for women in China have contributed hugely to bringing down the female suicide rate in the country. (Photo: VCG)

In 2002, China's first-ever national survey on suicide, based on 1995-99 data, revealed that suicides accounted for 3.6 percent of the country's total deaths, making it the fifth major killer behind cerebral vascular disease, bronchitis, liver cancer and pneumonia. During the period, 287,000 Chinese took their own lives every year, putting the average suicide rate at 23/100,000.

While China continues to stay within the few countries that has a higher suicide rate among women than men, recent data shows the difference to have almost evened out.

In the 1990s female suicides outnumbered male suicides by a factor of three in China, meaning for every one man committing suicide, three women killed themselves.

However, by 2016, suicide rates among Chinese men and women came nearly at par – 9.1/100,000 for men and 10.3/100,000 for women, as per the WHO figures. This is also one of the lowest female suicide rates in the world.

Analysts suggest social changes including greater freedom for women, urbanization and diminishing access to toxic pesticides that were once the most common means of suicide are among the key reasons behind the drastic turnaround in China's female suicide rates.

The 2002 national survey found that among young rural women, two-thirds who attempted suicide cited unhappy marriages, two-fifths said they were beaten by their spouses and a third complained about conflict.

"Female independence has saved a lot of women," said Jing Jun, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, adding that [earlier] "they married into their husbands' families; they'd leave their hometown; they'd go to a place where they knew nobody."

Overall, most studies show a general decline in suicide rates among all the gender and regional categories in China. The studies also recommend targeted suicide prevention programs, particularly for certain groups, such as rural males for instance, where suicide rates have declined but at a slower rate.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon and Da Hang. Music by: Text from CGTN.)

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