High Rate Suicides Among Females in China
China is the home of the 56 percent of the world's female suicides. The rate of suicides for females in China is 33.5 per 100,000 compared to 7.1 per 100,000 in the rest of the world. The rate is particularly high among rural women between the ages of 15 and 39. Women kill themselves at double the rate of men. In most countries the suicide rate is much higher men among than women.
About three times as many rural women kills themselves as urban women. Most rural women and 58 percent of all women who attempt suicide ingest liquid pesticide. Pesticides are favored because they are readily available, cheap and effective. Some pesticides are so strong that a couple of tablespoons can kill a person in two hours.
Xie Lihua, an editor of an education magazine for rural women, told the Independent that doctors in rural Hubei province "said suicide looked like a contagious disease there; people just took their lives very lightly. People talked about this family's daughter or that family's daughter-in-law drinking pesticide very naturally, as if not a serious matter."
Women Who Have Attempted Suicide in China
Xie described one 38-year-old woman who killed herself with a bottle of pesticide apparently from the trauma of taking care of an eight-person household by herself while her husband was having an affair. After she died her 16-year-old daughter became responsible for taking care of the family. After a year of thankless labor, scolding and criticism she "joined her mother." Before drinking a bottle of pesticide, she made cloth shoes for her brothers.
Another woman refused to marry her idle brother-in-law after her husband died as is the custom in many parts of rural China. The woman left her village and remarried but the marriage feel apart because they could not have any children. Depressed she returned to her mother-in-law's house and committed suicide the next day.
Some women attempt suicide on impulse. The Washington Post described a woman in a village in that got into an argument with her husband because she couldn’t sleep because he was watching television. She stomped out of the house and grabbed bottle of pesticide and began gulping it down.
“I just drank a little bit, but it burned my throat and my mouth,” she told the Washington Post. “I took it without thinking anything deep. I just felt wronged, and I acted rashly. I never thought of the two children, not a bit. I thought of nothing.” The woman’s mother-in-law heard the argument, found the woman and knocked the pesticide bottle from her hands. The woman ended up in the hospital, forcing her family to pay a medical bill that amounted to a third of their annual income.
Reasons for Female Suicides in China
Common reasons for the suicides include unfaithful husbands, disputes over money. Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Michael Phillips told the Independent that he believed that one third to one half of female suicides "are impulsive acts that do not have an underlying major depression." Philips also believes that seeing people on television living better lives than one's own may also be a factor in the suicides.
By some estimates 80 percent of the suicide deaths are the result of conflicts between husbands and wives. Many victims are trapped in abusive marriages or live with domineering in-laws or are upset over abortions. Girls and young women are often pushed around by their fathers, brothers and mothers in law. Many young girls are virtually sold in marriages. Wives are often little more than servants in their husband’s household.
Xie told the Independent, "Suicide is not a new problem, it has existed for a long time. In traditional Chinese culture, rural women do not value themselves and are not valued by others. They take their lives very lightly. If they meet some unsolvable problems, they solve it by taking their own lives."
One reason young rural women are especially prone to attempt suicide, a Chinese expert on such matters, told the Washington Post, is that young women “are unprepared for the great shock of the life, such as family conflict and a fast-changing social environment. Most women who commit suicide have a poor education..and are strongly influenced by traditional thoughts of the old China.” One study found that a high percentage of women who attempt suicide have an average of only five years of schooling and live in households with a median income of only $13 a month. Most said they were unhappily married and, 42 percent said they had money problems and 38 percent said their husbands beat them.
One British sociologist told Reuters women between 15 and 19 years "appear to be having the most difficulty adjusting to socio-economic change. These women are often suffer tremendously in caring for their family from a young age, and live a fairly lonely existence in a harsh matriarchal society.”
· 9 years ago