Wed, Dec 03, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Nearly one-third of Taiwanese lonely: mental health poll

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Saying the prevalence of Internet use has resulted in a growing number of people who stay indoors, a survey released by the Mental Health Foundation yesterday showed that nearly one in three people have experienced loneliness in the past year.

The survey, which polled 1,068 people aged 20 and above between Sept. 16 and Oct. 9, found that nearly 36 percent of respondents were pessimistic about their future and that their level of pessimism increases with age.

When asked to score their level of optimism about the future on a scale from zero to 100 — with 80 being the pass mark — respondents in the 20-to-40 age group gave an average score of 81.4, while people aged between 41 and 64 averaged a score of 71.8 and those above the age of 65 averaged 63.4.

While the overall mental health score for this year’s respondents is 83, slightly higher than the 81.6 score of respondents in a similar survey in 2012, nearly 32 percent of those polled said they had experienced loneliness in the past year due to a lack of companionship, or feeling under-appreciated or isolated.

National Taiwan University Hospital psychiatrist Hu Gai-guo (胡海國) said that while the Internet can help some assuage their loneliness, it can prompt others who are under high pressure and experience low levels of happiness to completely shut themselves off from the outside world.

“One of the example is Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), a socially isolated university student addicted to online gaming who [allegedly] went on a killing spree on an MRT train in May. Overseas research has also shown that people who have experienced loneliness in the past five years are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts,” Hu said.

Mental Health Foundation psychiatrist Tom Yang (楊聰財) said people who are unemployed, divorced, widowed and who live alone are most susceptible to social isolation, urging the government and the public to pay more attention to the growing issue.

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