23 February 2019
A woman surnamed Cheung (inset, middle) shares her experience of dealing with her two young kids at a forum on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ
A woman surnamed Cheung (inset, middle) shares her experience of dealing with her two young kids at a forum on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

Survey raises alarm about suicide risks among schoolkids

A survey has warned about high levels of suicidal thoughts among school children in Hong Kong, adding to authorities’ concerns about a spate of cases in recent months when young people took their own lives.   

According to a study conducted jointly by Caritas Hong Kong and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), over 31 percent of senior primary school students and 40 percent of junior secondary school students may have suicidal tendencies.

Based on interviews with over 913 primary and secondary school students in the city, the survey findings ring fresh alarm bells about the problems of depression and stress among the youth.

Conducted between September and November last year, the survey was designed to understand the suicidal tendencies of the respondents, focusing on the aspects of anxiety and stress, suicidal thoughts, and familial problems.

Students who returned a score of 11 marks or more on a questionnaire were flagged as potentially suicidal, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Results showed that students are under stress, with many suffering anxiety about secondary school entrance examinations or adapting to new environment.

Students from single parent families were found more prone to suicides as they could have trouble adapting to new circumstances.

Unveiling the survey findings, Dr Lai Yuk-ching from CityU said that as examinations approach, there is a higher risk of students having suicidal thoughts.

Children should seek help from their parents, teachers or social workers if they develop problems with sleeping, have poor appetite or suffer anxiety, he said.

Lai, meanwhile, reminded parents that they should remain empathetic and try to show love and care by communicating more with their children.

In an attempt to address suicides among students, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has allocated HK$21 million to support counseling activities organized by three entities — Caritas, Suicide Prevention Services, and The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong, Headline Daily reports.

It is estimated some 8,000 students, parents, teachers and volunteers will participate in the activities over a three-year period that started in 2016.

According to a mother of two who has already participated in the program, she faced a lot of stress in dealing with her daughter, who is now in primary two.

The mother became alarmed as the kid openly suggested that she didn’t want to live as “studies were so difficult”. Her younger son, meanwhile, was also constantly throwing tantrums and making her stressed out, the mom said.

The mother, a person surnamed Cheung, enrolled in the Samaritan Befrienders parents’ workshop in March in order to learn more about counseling skills.

The workshop helped her understand the necessity of controlling her own emotions before handling those of her children, Cheung said.

She admitted that in the past she had focused too much on the kids’ school results and ignored their emotional needs.

Following the workshop, Cheung helped her children work out a reasonable work schedule in order to alleviate their stress.

The mother added that she also learnt that it is important to be not in denial or act judgmental when having counseling sessions with the kids.

She says she empathizes with her children better now and communicates more effectively, resulting in improved relations with the kids.

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