Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sucide -- again

THE TAIPEI TIMES offered a feature article on suicide in Taiwan, the ninth leading cause of death here. I've blogged on this topic before, but working with young people who take things rather more dramatically than they should, I worry constantly about possible suicides. The Taipei Times writes:

Suicide has been one of the top-10 causes of death in Taiwan for the past nine years. Over the past 10 years, the nation's suicide rate has increased from seven out of every 10,000 persons to 15.3 out of every 10,000 persons. While once the largest age bracket was those between 45 and 64, it's now those between 25 and 44. For people between ages 15 and 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Last year, a reported 3,468 people took their own life, or one every two-and-a-half hours. Authorities point out, however, that suicide rates are thought to be underestimated by 20 percent to 25 percent among the elderly and 6 percent to 12 percent among other age groups, with many likely suicides wrongly reported as accidents or where the cause of death was listed as "unknown."

Medical professionals worry that suicide is becoming more ritualized, a phenomenon they attribute to the sensationalized coverage of suicide in the media. In 1998, when a woman in Hong Kong killed herself by sealing her apartment with tape and burning charcoal until she died of asphyxiation, it became one of the top-three methods used by those attempting to kill themselves.

Scary. The article discussed a major social problem -- the media frenzy around suicide, and how it leads to spikes in the suicide rate.

1 comment:

rmdazwdv said...

Michael, may I recommend Malcolm Gladwells' book Blink, which discusses an interesting related phenemenon callled priming. They tell the students to think about life as a professor before they take a test, and they out-perform the control group. They ask them to specify their race before they take a test... you can imagine the results and their implications.