Charcoal barbecues should be phased out in Hong Kong and replaced with electric barbecues to help cut down the growing number of people using charcoal burning as a means of killing themselves, researchers say. Burning charcoal in a sealed room is now the second most common form of suicide in Hong Kong, accounting for almost one in four last year. Many of those people would not have killed themselves if charcoal burning had not been available, the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention reported. The method is particularly common with those involved in suicide-pacts or suicide-homicide cases. Researchers said a voluntary supermarket campaign placing warning stickers and helpline numbers on bags of charcoal had proved a limited success, but was no longer widely in use. In one case, a woman trying to kill herself and her two young children phoned the helpline in time for police to intervene. 'We don't know how many lives have been saved,' said centre director Dr Paul Yip Siu-fai. The centre is now urging people to consider using electric barbecues, saying the detoxification of domestic gas in Britain, the US and the Netherlands led to significant decreases in this form of suicide. Dr Yip said: 'We have to educate people. We need to give people a choice so they realise there are other options to having barbecues other than charcoal burning.'