The window of opportunity to rescue trapped victims is gone but another battle has begun for authorities working to free survivors of the weight of mental trauma. Lee Chih-kuei, a psychologist from Taiwan's Puli Christian Hospital, lived through the island's deadly 1999 quake and warned that suicide could become a trend in the aftermath of the Sichuan quake if there was not enough mental-health and social support. Dr Lee said several people committed suicide in hard-hit An county within five days of the quake and the situation could be worse among people from Beichuan and Yingxiu. He said many traumatised people had tried to kill themselves and were going unnoticed among the tens of thousands of victims. 'Some people already have mental disorders since the quake. We must find these people before their mental state worsens or they even commit suicide.' He said the most difficult time for survivors would come in a few weeks when most volunteers and donors had left the area and public concern had faded. 'Now, people around the world are concerned about the survivors. Their pain could be eased by such concern. They will feel very depressed and lonely after the relief teams and volunteers go.' Dr Lee arrived in Xiaoba township in An county yesterday and began to train volunteers to reach out to residents and assess their mental state. As a trial, three volunteers gave nine survivors a three-part questionnaire based on the Taiwan quake experience, to assess physical and mental stress, extent of mental trauma and the likelihood of suicide. Dr Lee was concerned by the results, which revealed that six of the nine displayed suicidal tendencies after seeing so many dead and injured. He plans to interview at least 200 survivors today for evaluations. A mental health team from the China Red Cross also showed up at the tent camps in Xiaoba, using a different method to evaluate the survivors' mental states. Team leader Wo Jianzhong talked to survivors at random and asked questions such as: 'Are you scared? Do you have nightmares? How many schoolmates died in the disaster?' During the conversations, he also underlined central government concern for the survivors. A 48-year-old man wept as he told Mr Wo that most of his family members had died in the quake. 'I have nothing, really nothing,' he said. Mr Wo tried to comfort him, saying he must live on, and assured him that the central government would take care of him. Soldiers and officials who rescued people at the front line would also be evaluated by Mr Wo. 'They were excited and fearless on the front line. But many of them will suffer similar mental problems as the survivors,' he said. Volunteer Luo Shilin said he saw many soldiers die in landslides and aftershocks. 'I know the government should keep the sacrifices of soldiers low profile. But I can't ever forget those scenes,' he said.