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June 26, 2017

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More Taiwanese considering suicide: survey

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An increasing number of teenagers and young adults committed suicide in Taipei City last year, Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday, amid reports that the local suicide rate has clearly decreased amongst all other age groups.

The number of people, aged 15-24, who committed suicide in 2007 rose sharply by 4 to 25 people, or 7.5 people per 100,000 population, Medical Affairs Division Chief Kao Wei-chun said.

All age groups together, Kao stressed that 13.8 people committed suicide per 100,000 in 2007, down from 17.3 people a year earlier.

According to the latest figures provided by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Taipei's suicide rate is closely following Japan's, which registered 19 suicides per 100,000 last year.

Taiwan is nonetheless ahead of France, Canada and Britain, which recorded a suicide rate per 100,000 of 15, 11, and 7 people, respectively.

Japan has the second highest suicide rate among major industrialized countries after Russia.

"It is a social problem, not only a medical problem," explained Kao, who urged teachers and parents to pay attention to early signs of depression among young adults - including obsession with death, dramatic change in personality or appearance, or overwhelming sense of guilt.

Taipei City government has instituted measures such as a counseling service and hotlines, with the aim of further cutting the suicide rate in the near future.

"These are palliatives," said Hong Feng-fang, supervisor at Taipei City Psychiatric Center.

She noted that homework is not the only problem, as more and more teenagers are educated in single-parent families struggling economic woes.

"Young adults facing difficulties in their live do not always want to die," added Chiang Hung-chi, CEO of the Suicide Prevention Center, while noting the higher number of suicide attempts among youngsters.

He stressed that people contemplating suicide need help in facing difficulties, as well as understanding the "meaning of life."

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