Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Internet addiction, suicide linked

DEPRESSED RESULTS:A survey showed that about 7 percent of people experienced negative moods within a week and 2.4 percent had thought about killing themselves

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwanese Society of Suicidology and the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center yesterday cautioned the public over a correlation between Internet addiction and an increased tendency toward depression and suicide as part of their efforts to reduce the nation’s suicide rate.

They issued the warning at a suicide prevention forum held in Taipei to mark this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, which has been organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the WHO annually on Sept. 10 since 2003 to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

The forum was attended by Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) and local health bureau officials.

“While the suicide rate in Taiwan has shown a steady decline over the past years, from its peak of 19.3 per 100,000 people in 2006 to 15.3 last year ... more measures that suit local circumstances are needed if we want to solve the root causes of such tragic events,” society director-general Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said.

Citing results from a computer-based survey conducted by the society among 2,147 people aged 15 or older from July 1 to July 12, Lee said about 6.6 percent of the respondents said they had experienced negative moods in the past week and 2.4 percent said they had had suicidal thoughts in the same period.

“Based on these figures, we estimate that nationwide, there are 1.33 million people troubled by depression and 482,000 by suicidal thoughts,” Lee said.

A further breakdown of the results showed that about 35.5 percent of the respondents who indicated negative moods or suicidal thoughts said they have seriously considered suicide, while 11.9 percent have attempted it.

Among the respondents who meet criteria for Internet gaming disorder stipulated in the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — a diagnostic guide for mental-health professionals — 24 percent said they are affected by negative emotions and 11.5 percent said they have considered suicide.

The results indicated a close relationship between Internet addiction and emotional distress and suicide, Lee said.

Lee said in light of the prevalence of smartphones among people aged 15 to 24 — who are more susceptible to Internet addiction than other age groups, according to the guide — the organization is to roll out an application next month that allows users to assess their psychological status based on an analysis of their symptoms from one to five in a rating system.

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