Approximately three people kill themselves in Hong Kong everyday. More people kill themselves than die in automotive accidents (considering the way people drive around here, it is an atrocious statistic).

There are two distinctive things about suicides in Hong Kong. The first is that parents and their children often commit them in tandem (not too common). This is due to the precept of filial piety prevalent in Asian cultures. The second is that the most common methods are jumping from a high-rise, or lighting a small dish of charcoal and asphyxiating. Other than that, suicides committed are not subject to any cultural difference that would distinguish them from suicides anywhere else.

So why on earth is it so common? A 2002 study by Chinese University indicates 36.6 percent of HK teenagers have had suicidal thoughts, up from 25.1 percent in 2001. In 2001 there were 1059 suicides - 650 men, and 409 women - in Hong Kong. In 1997 the total was 777 (numerologists, please leave that statistic alone). Even this is probably under-reported: without a suicide note, the coroner will most likely label it as death by accident. I can't begin to offer any sort of comprehensive explanation, but here are my theories.

A few organizations - the forementioned Samaritans, Angels Among Us (trains people to recognize potentially suicidal people among their friends), Operation Sunshine, the government's Suicide Prevention Services - are doing what they can to help curb the problem by raising awareness. Awareness, however, does not a problem solve. It just lets you know it is there. In my opinion the best counter-measures to take would be a change in the school system, and the establishment of affordable, government-run mental health clinics with a focus on group therapy.

Statistics from the South China Morning Post

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