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March 19, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Suicide remains lead cause of city's college student deaths

Suicide remained the top killer for local college students last year, despite a sharp decrease in the city's total student death toll.

Thirteen local college students, including one foreign student, took their lives last year. That surpassed acute disease and drowning as the major cause of death of young people, according to a report on student safety released yesterday.

In response, the Shanghai Education Commission plans to start an anti-suicide reporting system on university campuses this year.

"Most people show psychological problems before their suicide attempts," said Hu Baoguo, a commission official who oversees student psychological health.

In the case of the foreign student, the expat had written lots of pessimistic blogs before cutting his wrists in the student dorm. Officials declined to disclose the identity and nationality of the student.

"We encourage classmates and teachers to report at-risk students around them to the authorities for timely intervention," Hu said.

Though suicide was ranked the top killer of university students, experts pointed out that the ratio was comparatively low.

"On average, 2.1 in every 100,000 local students took their own lives last year. It's much lower than the international alert level of 20 in every 100,000 person," said Zhang Haiyan, deputy president of Shanghai College Psychological Consultation Council.

The rate was also lower than the average Chinese suicide rate of 23 in every 100,000 people.

The city reported 52 safety incidents among its 616,300 full-time college and university students last year, including 24 deaths.

In comparison, 55 students died in 63 safety incidents, including suicide, traffic accidents and fires, in 2008.

In other safety moves, the education authorities plan to promote the use of monitoring devices to keep track of power consumption in dormitories. With the remote devices, officials can immediately detect students using illegal electric equipment to prevent fires caused by short circuit.

Among the six fire accidents last year, five were caused by circuit problems.

The commission officials urged colleges to upgrade their aging electricity facilities to handle the proliferation of computers and other electric equipment among students.

Meanwhile, the education authorities will promote first-aid training among local university teachers and students against acute disease.

Seven people died of acute disease last year, including a foreign student who died after drinking alcohol in a bar.

There were two deaths among the roughly 20,000 foreign students in local colleges and universities last year, the commission said.


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