Rising suicide rate casts shadow over mental health study

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Feb 08, 2007 - Page 2

The second biannual survey by the Mental Health Foundation showed that the mental health of Taiwanese is improving. The foundation's mental health index for last year stood at 82.63 points, compared to 80.2 points two years ago.

"We consider 80 points out of 100 the passing grade," said Hwu Hai-gwo (胡海國), president of the foundation and a professor of psychiatry at National Taiwan University.

The survey asked 1,122 adults questions about their mental health, personal values, control over their lives and the state of their family life. The survey was statistically adjusted to reflect the general population of Taiwan.

The most disturbing finding was the high level of respondents who said that they had contemplated or attempted to commit suicide.

When extrapolated to the whole population, the survey showed that out of the nation's approximately 16 million adults, 1,47 million -- or almost 9 percent -- had contemplated ending their life in the past year.

Of that number, 416,000 were believed to have attempted to commit suicide in the past year.

The nation's suicide rate has climbed over the years, but is still below Japan's and South Korea's. Department of Health figures showed that in 2005 more than 4,000 suicides had been committed in Taiwan, representing a rate of 18.8 deaths per 100,000.