Pressure from school and the growing competitiveness among young people are triggers for suicides among the youth in Hong Kong.
The figure emerges from a report published by the Department of Social Protection (SWD) of the Chinese Ministry of Education. It said suicides were the second leading cause of death among minors (22.8%) in the period between 2016 and 2018.
Wang Huan, director of the Ministry of Education, believes that the situation is linked to an “excessive” level of stress.
The pro-government newspaper Hong Kong Commercial Daily has reported that at least 11 students took their own lives between April and May, further fueling concerns of the education sector.
It is a situation linked to too much study and “excessive pressure” in the framework of a highly competitive system based on grades and notes of merit and demerit.
The SWD study shows that in relation to infant mortality recorded in the three-year period, death from natural causes is 61.4% (159 victims out of a total of 259). However, the second are suicides with 59 deaths, equal to 22.8%; then there are uncertain natural causes (3.1%), assaults (2.7%) and medical complications (1.5%).
The highest rate of deaths from suicide was recorded among 15-17 year olds with 39 cases out of 259 overall deaths (equal to 15%).
Wang Huan said that high number of hours of study increase the level of stress. “It is a source of stress and resistance to learning,” he said.
The average number of hours of study per week recorded for kindergarten, elementary and middle/high school students is 49.1, 66.5 and 76.5, respectively. A Hong Kong student must take up to nine courses a day, which is far higher than neighboring territories such as Shanghai (five to seven courses) and Taiwan (five courses).
Chow Tak-fai, director of the Catholic elementary school in Tai Kok, believes that it is much more important to encourage students to develop their own interests than to change their learning method.
“The key to studying happily is not to change the way we teach, but to inspire, motivate and encourage students, encouraging them to work hard for things that interest them,” he said.
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