Suicides in Hong Kong

Chinese University of Hong Kong steps up efforts to help students after sixth suicide

Psychiatrist will visit campus once a week, midnight counselling hotline will be set up and an ad hoc group will examine mental health issues among students

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 March, 2016, 12:05pm

The Chinese University is to step up its counselling service under emergency measures worked out after the institution lost another of its students to suicide over the weekend.

A psychiatrist will be hired to visit the campus once a week to see students with needs, and three more counsellors are being recruited for the student affairs office to expand the team there from eight to 11.

READ MORE: Fears for Hong Kong students after fifth suicide at Chinese University since start of academic year

The university will also set up a midnight counselling hotline in cooperation with the Federation of Youth Groups.

The measures were approved at a crisis management meeting on Monday chaired by university vice-chancellor and president Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu.

At the meeting, university management also appointed an ad hoc panel including experts and students who had sought counselling assistance to examine mental health problems among students and find ways to improve services offered by the university.

While there is currently no resident psychiatrist at the university, a university spokesman said same-day referral of cases to experts was available.

“To strengthen the service, we have hired a psychiatrist to come to the campus once a week to offer a service to students when needed,” said the spokesman.

READ MORE: More Hong Kong children commit suicide than die in accidents, study reveals

In a screening exercise last September and October, 860 students with mental issues were spotted and followed up by the counselling team. In the 2014-15 academic year, the counselling team also organised 60 workshops, courses and activities for over 7,000 students and teaching staff.

The university counselling service is available on 3943 7208 or through [email protected].

A university medical student, 20, jumped to her death in Fanling last Saturday. She was said to be under stress because of examinations. She was reportedly the seventh student from the university to commit suicide in the past year and the fifth since the start of this academic year.

“Being a teacher and dean of students, I can only say I feel sadness beyond words to see the loss of our students,” said Professor Dennis Ng, associate vice-president and dean of students. Ng said in a letter to students, colleagues and alumni that he and his colleagues would spare no effort to prevent further tragedies happening.

Meanwhile, a 12-year-old schoolboy fell to his death in an apparent suicide in Tin Shui Wai on Tuesday . He was said to be unhappy because of academic problems.

The Professional Teachers’ Union called on the government to take prompt action to address the issue. Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said he would convene an emergency meeting with experts soon.

The Samaritans offer a 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention service on 2896 0000. Suicide Prevention Services operate a 24-hour hotline on 2382 0000