Is poor life planning a cause of university student suicides in Hong Kong?

Is poor life planning a cause of university student suicides in Hong Kong?

School principals and lawmakers reject Eddie Ng Hak-kim’s claims that poor life planning leads to student suicides


Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim associates poor life planning with suicides.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP

Secondary school principals and education lawmakers have said a failure to plan ahead in life does not necessarily lead to suicides among university students. This is in response to Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim’s statement at the Legacy Awards ceremony at Polytechnic University last Friday that students take their lives because of poor and incomplete life planning.

“Students put enormous effort into their studies because they want to study their preferred university programmes. If they find their course falls short of their expectations, they may not be able to handle the pressure from themselves, family or friends. If something unpleasant happens, they get frustrated and are more likely to take their own lives,” he said.

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Ng said the Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides’ report – which will be submitted to the Education Bureau in late October – will explore the causes of university student suicides. The committee was formed in late March following a wave of student suicides in the last school year.

St. Stephen’s College principal Yang Ching in the school admission briefing session on Saturday told media that she did not totally agree with what Ng said on the causes of suicide.

“There are multiple reasons why young people take their lives. Life planning shouldn’t be the only reason for it,” St Stephen’s College principal Yang Ching insisted.

Ng Tak-kay, one of the presidents at Hok Yau Club and the principal of CUHKFAA Thomas Cheung Secondary School, told Young Post that life planning programmes enable students to understand their interest and qualities.

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“Life planning, as well as life education, help students to find their own direction and to cultivate a positive attitude. It plays a significant role in their personal growth. But anything can happen [in life], as students might end up having problems with their studies, friends or with family. Life planning is not the only factor in student suicides, and it shouldn’t be used to prevent suicides either,” said Ng Tak-kay.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen told Young Post that poor life planning does not directly cause suicides. “I don’t understand why Secretary for Education has made this conclusion. Did he give concrete evidence or provide statistics to prove that poor life planning is directly related to suicides?”

Ip said schools should have comprehensive measures to provide students with sufficient counselling services should they encounter difficulties.

Need help? Call a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline:

Suicide Prevention Service: 2382 0000

The Samaritans (multilingual): 2896 0000

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
‘Many reasons for taking their own lives’


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