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Youth suicide in Hong Kong

Hong Kong government faces flak over approach to student suicides

Lawmaker and social worker suggests Education Bureau approach will irritate those contemplating suicide; instead they need encouragement and empathy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 12:24pm

“If you die, your boyfriend may be sad for a few days, but he will soon find a new girlfriend and live normally. It is not worth doing such a silly thing for him!”

That was an example suggested in an online document available to the public on the Education Bureau’s website on ways to communicate with friends who have suicidal tendencies.

The advice was found in a Chinese-language document titled “The Package on Prevention of Student Suicide (2010)” on a webpage aimed at providing resources for teachers to prevent student suicides.

After 71 student suicides since 2013, education chief told Hong Kong schools are like a ‘prison’

The controversial example quickly drew flak from educators and social workers over how it could be dangerous for people with suicidal tendencies.

Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, who is also a registered social worker and associate director of the Centre for Youth Research and Practice at Baptist University, said it was taboo to “irritate” someone who may be contemplating suicide.

“The [person at risk] is already very unhappy. If you tell them that even committing suicide is useless, they will feel not only a sense of loss but also that things are meaningless,” he said.

Instead, Shiu advised people to encourage and show empathy to those with suicidal tendencies, such as commending them for being brave in facing their troubles and asking them how they feel.

Between 2013 and last year, 71 students took their lives.

If you are feeling stressed or in need of support, contact Samaritan Befrienders’ 24-hour hotline on 2389 2222