THE Cultural Development Centre For Rural Women, an non-government organization, has launched a special programme to stem the rising tide of suicide and attempted suicide by women in the countryside, the Southern Weekend reported last week.
More women than men kill themselves each year in China and most of the victims are from rural villages. Drinking pesticide is the most common cause of death.
In the small county of Haixing in North China's Hebei Province, one of the poorest counties in the country, 175 residents, mostly women, committed suicide between the beginning of 2001 and mid-2002, according to statistics provided by the local women's federation.
Many of the women were found to have committed suicide on impulse after family quarrels, rows with neighbours or financial problems.
The Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women has now organized the first programme to help rural women with similar problems. It is a psychological consultation service called "Life Crisis Intervention" and it will operate in Chinese rural villages.
The programme began last May when some 30 rural women from three Hebei counties who had either attempted suicide or who came from families with a history of suicide were invited to Beijing.
Led by psychologists and volunteers, they were encouraged to talk freely about their emotional problems, their family difficulties and other issues. The experts gave them guidance on how to face crises when they arose and the women were also helped by sharing their experiences with one another.
The women said that they had learned how to view their problems with a new perspective and felt they were now able to handle them better.
However, some of the women found that they received little sympathy from their fellow villagers on their return home. One of the women reported that her neighbours "viewed her strangely as someone who went Beijing to be cured after a failed suicide attempt".
Rumours were started about her and even her own family failed to give her a helping hand. When reporters went to interview her about the campaign they found her in a distressed state.