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Tragedies reveal that many schools fail at suicide prevention

By Liang Chen (Global Times)

13:49, September 12, 2012

Just days after the new semester began, a tragic wave of suicides swept across the country as several students from elementary and high schools were reported to have taken their own lives.

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old girl in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, jumped from a building and killed herself, according to reports in local media.

The girl, in her senior year in high school, was reportedly facing a lot of pressure due to an exam, yet students who knew her well said she was a talented girl who excelled at study.

Then, on Thursday, an 8-year-old girl in Guangyuan, Sichuan Province, committed suicide by jumping out of the window of a building. She was staying with her aunt at the time. Her mother, Feng Shiqing, told the Western China City Daily that the girl had called her in tears the night before, because her teacher had scolded her.

The recent increase in youth suicide has drawn attention to the lack of psychological services provided for students. Experts say that both parents and schools need to play a greater role in caring for the mental health of young people. Crucially, parents and schools need to start applying less pressure when it comes to exams.

"Under the exam-oriented education system, students are under a lot of pressure to study. They often believe that their lives are worthless if they don't get high scores. When you add the intense academic expectations of parents, the students are left feeling depressed, isolated and anxious, which in turn leads to psychological problems," Wang Hongcai, an education professor from Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

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