China has seemed to pull off a socio-economic miracle. It went from having the highest suicide rates in the world to the lowest. In the 1990s, young rural women were killing themselves at an alarming rate, but recent studies show a stunning decline by almost about 90 percent has turned the tide in China.
The Overall Situation
The Chinese suicide rates in the '90s were appalling, to say the least. According to The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, the rate stood at 23.2 suicides per 100,000 people annually from 1995 to 1999. Compared to that, the results of this year’s report by a group of researchers from the University of Hong Kong have been impressive. The researchers found that these rates have declined to an average annual rate of 9.8 per 100,000 for the years 2009-11, a 58 percent drop.
According to Paul Yip, director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong and the co-author of the recent study, no country has ever achieved such a rapid decline in suicides.
What’s even more surprising is that China has done so without a significant improvement in mental-health services and any national publicity effort to lower suicides.
The Contributing Factors
There may be several contributing factors to this massive decline: migration and urbanization. The rise of an urban middle class is also a cause of the feeling of liberation among rural women – liberation from parental pressures, bad marriages and worries of a poor life.
The improvement in the Chinese economy has also contributed to the decrease in suicides among the urban residents. The University of Hong Kong study suggested a decline of 59 percent.
Even though a general decline has been observed, with all said and done, the possibility statistics were manipulated cannot be ruled out.