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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July, 2005, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Suicide high among China's youth
Chinese woman
Increased competition and pressure are said to lead to depression
Suicide is the primary cause of death among young Chinese, according to figures published in the state media.

The Beijing Suicide Reseach and Prevention Centre has reportedly found that the number of suicide cases has soared in recent years.

An estimated 250,000 Chinese now take their own lives every year, according to the figures published in the China Daily newspaper.

An additional 2.5-3.5m people are said to make unsuccessful suicide attempts.

Suicide is the fifth major cause of death among China's 1.3 bn population, but the main cause of death for people aged between 20 and 35.

"Society is full of pressure and competition, so young people, lacking experience in dealing with difficulties, tend to get depressed," Beijing psychiatrist Liu Hong told the China Daily.

In response to the escalating suicide rate, the government created a national, 24-hour suicide prevention hotline in August 2003.

The hotline receives an estimated 1,000 calls a day, but the Canadian director of the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Centre, Michael Phillips, said only one in 10 callers can get through on the first try.

"That is very dangerous because most of the callers are anxious and may commit suicide impulsively," Mr Phillips told the China Daily.

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