Job fears spark suicide calls to helpline

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 November, 1998, 12:00am

A helpline for young people has for the first time had to counsel callers considering suicide because of unemployment.

Between July and September, the Youth Line received 58 calls from young people who could not find jobs. Of those, two men and one woman said they were contemplating suicide.

The hotline is operated by the Hong Kong Federation for Youth Groups.

This year 436 people, mostly in their 20s, have called because they have been laid off, compared to 337 last year.

A few said they would resort to crime such as robbery or selling pirated CDs, or work as nightclub hostesses, youth counsellor Hsu Siu-man said.

Federation supervisor Anita Lam Siu-fung said callers were told they were good enough to have jobs, but that the current market was highly competitive.

The service, launched in July 1993, runs seven lines with 13 part-time and full-time trained social workers answering calls between 2pm and 2am from Monday to Saturday. Between January and September this year, 358,521 calls have swamped the hotline.

But only 91 a day can be handled because of the limited staffing.

Of the answered calls, 17.6 per cent were about dating and broken relationships, 13.9 per cent were on relationships with school friends, 7.9 per cent on parent/child relationships and 5.5 per cent on school pressure.