Suicide rate in the city lowest in a decade

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


The suicide rate in Hong Kong dropped to its lowest level in a decade last year, with 833 deaths - down 19 per cent year on year - according to figures from the Coroner's Court.

That meant the city had a suicide rate of 11.73 per 100,000 people, only the third time the rate has fallen below 12 in the past 20 years. It compares to a rate of 22.3 on the mainland, according to official figures released last year.

The World Health Organisation puts the suicide rate worldwide at 16 people per 100,000.

'It's very good symptomatically but we can't really say why there is a decline,' said Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong executive director Clarence Tsang Chin-kwok.

'It's always a guess but it could be economic reasons.'

The actual number of suicides may be higher as the official figure details only deaths dealt with by the coroner. It may not include cases where people die from complications after failed suicide attempts.

Some 62 per cent of those who killed themselves were male.

Almost a quarter of those who committed suicide were aged 70 and above, while the majority were aged between 30 and 59.

Retirees and the unemployed made up the largest proportion of those who took their own lives, followed by groups such as blue-collar workers, housewives, students, white-collar workers, members of the disciplined services (such as police, customs and immigration officers) and teachers.

The most common method of suicide was jumping from a building (55 per cent) followed by hanging (21 per cent) and carbon monoxide poisoning (16 per cent).

Samaritan Befrienders released the figures yesterday as it marked the 10th anniversary of two of its services - a suicide crisis intervention centre, funded by the Social Welfare Department, and a life education centre, funded by the Jockey Club's charitable trust.

Established in 1960 as the Suicide Prevention Society, the group has about 40 staff and several hundred volunteers.

At yesterday's event, a woman in her early 20s shared her story of how she wanted to commit suicide three months ago after her boyfriend of two years broke up with her just before Valentine's Day.

She was posting comments about her feelings on an online forum when she read about the services offered by the Samaritan Befrienders. This led her to seek help and after two months of counselling, she has recovered and is continuing her education.

The group's 24-hour hotline is 2389 2222