Sick father takes his life over financial fears about son's college fees

He feared his financially strained family could not afford his son's tuition fees due to his high medical bills

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 1:39pm

A partially paralysed man in a rural town in China’s central Anhui province killed himself by swallowing pesticide at the news of son’s admission into college.

Zhang Jiasheng, who suffered a stroke two years ago, took his own life out of fear that his financially strained family could not afford his son's tuition fees due to his medical bills, said media reports.

Zhang, who used to work on a construction site in Anhui’s Jinzhai county, was left partially paralysed and unable to work after the stroke. The whole family had been living on the income of his wife, who juggled jobs and attended to her husband, the Jianghuai Morning News reported on Thursday. The family had borrowed 50,000 yuan (HK$6,337) to pay the father's hospital bills and now spends several hundred yuan a month on medication.

Zhang’s health conditions have convinced his son, Zhang Yang, to study medical science so he could treat his father one day, the son later told Chinese media. Zhang Yang had excelled in the college entrance exam this year and was accepted by Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a prestigious medical college based in Hefei.

But the news proved to be too much for his father.

In the last conversation Zhang had with his son earlier this month, Zhang asked him how much the tuition would be. The son lied and told him it would be 4,000 yuan a year, instead of  the real amount - 6,000 yuan a year. The father still appeared shocked after hearing the figure, Zhang Yang recalled.

Zhang Yang then comforted him by suggesting he could get a loan and apply for scholarships, so there was no need to worry.

Apparently this failed to remove the father’s fears. He insisted on travelling to his hometown where he ended his life by swallowing pesticide.

Thousands of yuan have been donated to Zhang's family after the media reported the tragedy. The university has also offered financial help for Zhang, reports said.

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