42% of emotionally disturbed people consider suicide: study

Nearly 42 percent, or 520,000 out of the 1.23 million people with emotional disturbance in Taiwan have had serious thoughts of killing themselves, but only about 30 percent of them have sought medical assistance, according to a study released Sunday by the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center (TSPC).

The relatively low rate of emotionally disturbed people seeking medical help in Taiwan, compared with 50 percent in Europe and the United States, can be attributed to the stigma attached to people with mental health disorders, TSPC CEO Liao Shih-cheng (???) said while releasing the survey at a seminar held by the TSPC and the Taiwanese Society of Suicidology to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on Sept. 10.

A total of 3,675 people committed suicide last year, 133 more than a year earlier. The reasons for suicide could be associated with the global economic downturn, feelings of alienation and isolation, and an aging population, Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (???) said at the seminar.

People aged 75 years old or older and in the 15-24 age group posted the highest growth in suicides, Lin said, adding that the Health Ministry has directed its Department of Mental and Oral Health to improve the reporting system for suicides and the mental health care system.

Noting that suicide is a global issue, Lee Ming-been (???), director of the TSPC, citing World Health Organization statistics, said that more than 800,000 people commit suicide every year, with an average of about one person dying from suicide every 40 seconds and one person attempting to kill themselves every four seconds.

Therefore, governments around the world have deemed suicide prevention one of their major tasks, Lee said, adding that the TSPC completed a draft of a suicide prevention law two years ago and hopes that it could complete the legislative process soon.

Lee also said everyone can become a gatekeeper of suicidal behavior if they are willing to care a little more for others, pay more attention by listening to them and lending a helping hand to those individuals who show suicidal tendencies.

He also urged people who need help to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 0800-788-955, Lifeline 1995 or Teacher Chang Special Line 1980.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel