■ SocietySuicide numbers on the rise
Suicides have doubled in the past 10 years, and 10 percent of Taiwan's university students have attempted suicide, according to a medical report published yesterday. The suicide rate has increased from 6.24 suicides per 100,000 population to 14 suicides per 100,000 population. Last year 3,195 people ended their lives, averaging 8.75 suicides per day, or one suicide every 2.7 hours, the report by the Taiwan Society of Psychia-trists said. "The number of suicides could be under-estimated because many `accidental deaths' were in fact suicides," the society said in the report. The report also warned that many students have contemplated suicide. A survey of 3,848 college students showed that 10.2 percent of them attempted suicide in the past year. A survey of 296 elementary school pupils showed that eight or nine of them have inflicted physical harm on themselves in the past year.
Lee inspects blast site
Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) yesterday inspected an ammunition depot in Kaohsiung where three soldiers were killed in a blast on Saturday. Lee also visited the families of Second Lieutenant Hung Tuan-lung (洪端隆), Sergeant Huang Chien-che (黃健哲) and Private First Class Yang Wu-chang (楊武璋) to offer apologies and condolences. In addition to ordering an immediate investigation into the cause of the explosion, Lee suggested that a memorial be erected to serve as a reminder for all military members to be vigilant. Family members of the three complained that they did not receive notice of the accident until 4pm, more than an hour after the 2:50pm explosion. They asked the authorities to probe the case thoroughly so that their loved ones will not have died in vain. Lee said experts from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology will conduct a forensic investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.
Number of alcoholics rising
Alcoholism is connected to heredity and the number of alcoholics in Taiwan is increasing steadily, a local psychiatrist said yesterday. Chen Chiao-chi (陳喬琪), deputy director of the Taipei City Psychiatric Center, said at a seminar on mental health that foreign academic studies have confirmed correlation between alcoholism and heredity. "Statistics show that if one identical twin is an alcoholic, 75 percent of their siblings also suffer from alcoholism. The ratio among fraternal twins is 50 percent," Chen said, adding that the alcoholism is more likely to be passed onto males than to females. The studies also show that those born to alcoholic parents are 10 times more likely to suffer alcoholism than those from non-alcoholic families, Chen said.
Macau's Ho eyes casino
Macau casino godfather Stanley Ho (何鴻燊) said on Saturday that he would be very interested in opening a casino/hotel on Penghu Island if the government gives a green light to such business. In an interview with Taiwanese reporters, Ho said his company, Melco International Development, would be glad to invest in Penghu if casino operations are permitted there. Ho said that he has been to Penghu and came away with a strong impression of the scenic environment there. If Macau is given the chance, his company might channel investment to the tune of HK$15 billion (US$1.9 billion) into Penghu to build a casino kingdom there, he said.