Beijing, Sept 28 AFP
The suicide rate among the elderly living in China’s urban areas has become alarmingly high as they face rising medical bills and relocations from their homes, state media reported on Tuesday.
The annual suicide rate among those aged 70 to 74 in cities surged above 33 per 100,000 people between 2002 and 2008 compared to 13 per 100,000 people in the 1990s, the official China Daily quoted a sociology professor as saying.
The professor, Jing Jun from Beijing’s Tsinghua University, said a trend of relocating people from old sections of cities due to be demolished to make way for modern buildings had contributed to the increased rate, the report said.
“Relocation could be a bane to senior citizens in many ways, like throwing them into unfamiliar communities, lengthening the distance from their family members and raising disputes on property rights,” he was quoted as saying.
China is traditionally a nation where the elderly are cared for by their relatives.
But as the younger generation – many of whom have no siblings because of the nation’s strict population control law – come under the influence of modern-day life, some older people are feeling neglected.
Overall, though, China’s suicide rate has fallen over the years, thanks to a decline in rural women taking their own lives, the report said.
This drop can be attributed to mass migration to urban areas, which has pulled many rural women out of subordinate roles in their families, Jing was quoted as saying.
However, the fragile mental state of some migrant workers has also attracted attention this year, with a spate of suicides at plants belonging to Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn.
AFP mgr 28/09/10 19-48NZ