Alarming data on suicide

An alarmingly high number of primary and secondary school students have admitted to having suicidal thoughts, Caritas Hong Kong warned after conducting a survey.

Cissy So

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

An alarmingly high number of primary and secondary school students have admitted to having suicidal thoughts, Caritas Hong Kong warned after conducting a survey.

A total of 1,500 students were interviewed by the organization, who found 40 percent of the primary students surveyed thought about committing suicide, while 25 percent had harmed themselves.

Among the secondary students, more than 30 percent admitted to having suicidal thoughts, and almost 30 percent had engaged in self harm. The result reflected that family status and environmental changes, such as being part of a single-parent family or going to secondary school and adapting to a new social circle, could easily cause emotional problems for students.

The more students felt hopeless, unwelcome and a burden, the higher the risk they will commit suicide, the survey revealed. The poll used the Child-Adolescent Suicidal Potential Index to assess the risk of suicidal tendencies, along with 30 questions revolving around three factors - anxious-impulsive depression, suicidal ideation or acts and family distress.

Increasing students' subjective happiness, resilience and self-efficacy could help lower the risk of them committing suicide, said Sylvia Kwok Lai Yuk-ching, an associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at the City University of Hong Kong.

The program, Caritas Jockey Club "Life Coaching" Community Support Network, adopts three levels of intervention - universal, selective and indicated prevention.

The survey was done in four primary schools with 674 primary five and six students and four secondary schools with 833 secondary one and two students.

This is the second phase of the program, which started in August and is expected to be completed in July 2021.

The first phase was conducted between August 2016 and last July.

Thirty six percent of the secondary students who were interviewed were classified as urgent cases in the last phase, while only around 30 percent of them were so classified in the current phase.

Meanwhile the rate of 32 percent of primary students classified as urgent cases remained unchanged.

The purpose of the project is to spread the message of positivity and treasuring live within schools and the community. It also helps in distinguishing those who need help and providing them with the right services.

Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service conducted a survey between 2017 and 2018, and found that one in four secondary one to six students it interviewed had suicidal thoughts.