Friday, April 28, 2006

More children feeling suicidal


The results of a survery revealed yesterday showed that a worryingly large number of Taipei's elementary school students have felt suicidal

A survey has found that more than 26 percent of Taipei city's elementary school students have had suicidal thoughts.

According to the survey, conducted by Chinese Nationalist Party Taipei City Councilor Li Yan-hsiu (???), 26.4 percent of elementary school students had thought about suicide, and about 50 percent said they grew weary of their lives at times.

The survey polled 1,137 students at 12 municipal elementary schools and their parents between February and last month, and found that schoolwork and high parental expectations are the main sources of students' distress.

Although 62 percent of students' parents agreed that schoolwork was the main pressure on their children, 65 percent do not think such pressure is a serious matter.

"Students feel pressure from schoolwork and their parents, but parents failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the issue," Li said yesterday at Taipei City Council.

Lack of communication between parents and their children could lead to a wider generation gap, and cause parents to overlook a child's depression, which could lead to suicide attempts, she added.

Suicide has become the second commonest cause of death among students. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, the number of student suicides increased 30 percent last year.

Lee Kuang-hui (???), director of the department of psychology at Beitou Armed Forces Hospital, proposed a "38 policy" for parents in order to improve parent-children relationships.

"Parents should spend eight minutes every day to listen to their children; eight minutes to compliment them, and another eight to hug their other half who takes care of the children," he said.

Lee said children suffering from depression may exhibit a loss of interest in schoolwork, suffer from insomnia or lose their appetite.

Parents should not ignore such early signs of depressive problems and should stop pressurizing their children by setting them unrealistic targets.

In addition to advice for parents, Li said that schools should provide counseling services for students who might be struggling to cope.

In Taipei, there are only three professional counsellors assigned to each elementary school, which on average have more than 1,000 students.

Lin Teng-jiao (???), vice commissioner of the Taipei City education department, said the department invited psychologists to work in elementary schools two years ago. If the demand for psychological counseling increases, Lin said, the department would expand the service.

Source: The Taipei Times

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