'Help prevent suicides'

'Help prevent suicides'

Call for support as girl's body found

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention is urging parents to support young people and prevent suicide.

The call comes only two days after the body of 16-year-old schoolgirl Janet Ng Chun-yee (pictured) was found on The Peak; the Secondary Five student at St Clare's Girls' School had been missing since September 1, after telling her friends she was going to the area.

"Parents should not underestimate the impact they have on children," says Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the centre. "Let children know that they have hope and support; this will greatly reduce their desire to commit suicide."

Yip says an increasing number of youngsters, aged between 15 to 24, take their own lives. "It is a worrying trend, most of them felt despair because academic performance or relationship issues and youths think that they have no way out," Yip says.

"Many of them left a note apologising to their family, indicating that they had acted on impulse to end their lives."

In recent months, there have been other cases of young people taking, or trying to take, their own lives. In June, a 20-year-old student at Hong Kong Design Institute hanged herself in a hotel in Shenzhen because the school authority had accused her using fake documents to apply for sick leave.

On the first day of school, on September 2, a 13-year-boy hanged himself with a towel at his home in Pok Hong Estate in Sha Tin. On the same day, a 17-year-old Form Four student tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists athome. She was saved by her father. She had been upset after her poor academic results kept her out of school.

Cecilia Ng Kam-kuen, unit-in-charge at the Youth Counselling Centre, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) says its youth hotline received more than 4,000 calls last year from students. "Pressure from school is the number one concern for students," she says. "The demand on students keeps getting higher; they have to be good at examination and also extra-curricular activities, so the pressure is huge. Students should talk to teachers and their families.

Students with problems can call the HKGYG's hotline on 2777 8899.

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