Students who resort to suicide to solve their problems are cowards, a top education official said yesterday. The comments by Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun came a day after a 15-year-old girl jumped to her death in Tin Shui Wai. Speaking at a teacher-training function held by the Education and Manpower Bureau she said she was 'deeply saddened' to hear of Yip Ting-sin's death. But she added: 'Committing suicide is a selfish, weak and irresponsible act. Students who do so have not considered the harm they can bring to those close to them and the community at large. 'These students are not heroes.' Mrs Law said it was important for teachers and parents to spend time communicating with teenagers. Ting-sin, a Form Three student at Tin Shui Wai Government Secondary School, killed herself by jumping from a building in Tin Yat Estate on Tuesday. She was the fourth student in her school to commit suicide in two years. Police are still investigating her death, while the other three cases were all connected to the students' problems with families and friends. A bureau spokesman said it would help the secondary school to strengthen its counselling services and had issued a questionnaire to schools to identify students with emotional problems. Figures released by the bureau yesterday showed that 27 primary and secondary students have committed suicide since September 2001. Meanwhile, educators have called on the government to introduce more effective suicide-prevention measures. Hau Kit-tai, who chairs the educational psychology department at the Chinese University, supported Mrs Law's 'tough' attitude towards students who killed themselves. 'In the past, officials and the public often blamed parents and teachers for putting pressure on teenagers and causing suicides. This is very dangerous because it encourages students to victimise themselves,' he said. Professor Hau said a comprehensive set of policies to revive the economy and tackle social problems was a more effective preventive measure than screening students with emotional problems through questionnaires. 'The origins of students' emotional problems vary a lot. It can be drugs, family financial problems and so on. Policy-makers have to think about how to tackle many different issues at the same time to lower the suicide rate,' he said. Cheung Man-kwong, the legislator who represents the education sector, said he noticed there was a trend for 15 and 16-year-olds to kill themselves in what he called the 'peak teenage suicide month' of November. 'I think students tend to feel under pressure with school work and other problems two months into the new school term,' he said.