Wed, Aug 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Depressed jobless urged to get help

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

People who are suffering from depression because they are unemployed should seek professional and governmental help, the Taiwan Association Against Depression said yesterday.

The non-profit organization invited government officials and medical professionals speak at a press conference yesterday about suicide-prevention efforts for the unemployed.

"Depression caused by unemployment is contagious," said Lee Ming-been (李明濱), director of the Department of Health's Suicide Prevention Center, adding that family and friends of the jobless may also become depressed.

Although unemployment does not necessarily contribute to suicide, studies have shown that nearly one-fifth of the people who committed suicide were unemployed, Lee said.

Given that the number of people in Taiwan committing suicide in the prime of their life is growing, Lee said unemployment was not only a social problem but a public health one.

Council of Labor Affairs statistics show there were 410,000 people unemployed in June. The unemployment rate is 3.98 percent.

Association chairman Chen Chiao-chi (陳喬琪) estimated that about 820,000 people -- both the unemployed and their family and friends -- are currently affected by unemployment.

Kent Lin (林耕新), the director of Kaohsiung Kai-suan Psychiatric Hospital's department of community mental health, said there is a high risk that people who are laid off will die within a year of losing their jobs.

Council of Labor Affairs Deputy Minister Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳郁) said the best "treatment" for unemployment is to provide them with "hope," meaning professional skills and job opportunities. He said the council has 350 job training stations nationwide.

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