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Adulterated oil, soldier's death top 2013 disturbing news poll

TAIPEI -- The scandal over adulterated edible oil, the death of a young conscript in detention and a land expropriation incident were listed among the top 10 “disturbing” news events in Taiwan of 2013, an online poll showed Sunday.

The “disturbing” news items were classified as those that could have a negative effect on people's mental health, according to the poll that was conducted Dec. 23 last year to Jan. 4 among 617 members of the Taiwan Counseling Psychologist Union (TCPU).

Asked to pick the most health-threatening news reported recently, the respondents named issues related to the workplace, relationships, gender, race, social justice, domestic violence and same-sex marriage, said TCPU president Shyu Shi-sen.

The issue of adulterated edible oils made people feel that their safety was threatened and created a sense of distrust, said Lin Tsui-fen, a spokeswoman for the union.

She noted that hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests against the Ministry of National Defense to demand justice for young soldier Hung Chung-chiu, who was only three days away from completing his military service when he died of organ failure brought on by heatstroke while in detention, Lin said.

In the case of the land expropriation in Dapu in Miaoli County, people thought that the government should be more considerate in handling public matters, while the same-sex marriage reports highlighted discrimination and unfriendliness in Taiwan's society, Lin said.

In addition, news about repeated incidents of domestic violence caused worry about the development of the country's youth, Lin said.

People who experience strong emotions after exposure to such news should talk with friends or counseling psychologists about maintaining sound mental health, Lin suggested.

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