Suicide remained the second-leading cause of death among young Taiwanese men and women aged 15 to 24 last year, with 60 percent of the cases related to relationship problems, a government official reported earlier this week.
Lee Ming-pin (李明濱), director of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center, said 4,092 people in the age bracket attempted suicide last year and 201 of them died.
Traffic accidents were the No. 1 cause of death for young Taiwanese people last year, while malignant tumors were the third-leading killer.
The figure of 201 suicide deaths was 14 percent lower than the 2007 number. Those who failed to kill themselves form the group with the highest possibility of attempting suicide again, he said.
Lee would not speculate, however, on whether the growing number of suicide attempts was linked to the global economic downturn, saying further analysis was needed.
The number of reported suicide cases involving Taiwan’s young men and women has increased steadily over the past four years, an expert said.
Based on the cases of youth suicides reported to authorities since 2006, Lee said 60 percent were driven by relationship problems, while, to the surprise of many, academic pressure accounted for less than 3 percent of the total.
About 25 percent of the young people sought to end their lives by taking sleeping pills or sedatives, followed by 21 percent who tried to slit their wrists. Self-poisoning as well as gas or burning charcoal resulted in the highest mortality rate of any method at 35.3 percent, he said.
Lee called on parents and teachers to pay adequate attention to the youth suicide problem by patiently listening to the voices of suicidal youngsters instead of labeling them as “fragile strawberries.”
The DOH reported earlier in the month that Taiwan’s suicide mortality rate had increased by 3.3 percent last year from the previous year — a trend some believed could be linked to financial problems caused by the sagging economy.
Among all age groups, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in Taiwan last year, up one notch from 2007, a DOH report showed.