Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 15:08 UK

Chinese youth 'face suicide risk'

By James Reynolds
BBC News, Beijing

Chinese woman (file image)
Suicide has become a major issue for authorities across China

An association in China says that suicide is the leading cause of death among young people.

The Chinese Association for Mental Health says young people aged between 15 and 34 are more likely to die at their own hand than by any other means.

The suicide rate is reported to be higher in the countryside than cities, with more women taking their own lives.

The report was published in advance of World Suicide Prevention Day, taking place on Wednesday.

In some countries the leading cause of death among young people is road accidents. In China, it is suicide.

Studies come up with a number of reasons for the higher rates of female suicide in rural areas.

In particular, doctors say that arguments about marriage cause rural women to commit suicide.

Books withdrawn

But the problem is not just in the countryside.

In the city of Shanghai, three students have tried to kill themselves since the school year began at the start of September.

Another student, a 12-year-old boy, died when he jumped from a sixth floor window.

So the authorities in Shanghai have told schools to send out mental health questionnaires to several thousand pupils to try to prevent anyone else from killing themselves.

In addition, local bookshops have taken a number of books with suicide-related themes off their shelves.

They include a popular comic book called "The book of bunny suicides'.

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