Why do Suicides in China get so much attention in the U.S. Media?

July 1, 2015

USA Today reported in May 2015: Desperate Chinese turn to mass suicide in protest. USA Today said, “For some in China, suicide is the ultimate form of protest.” In addition, The World of Chinese Magazine alleged that China has one of the highest suicide rates per capita in the world.

How can that be when the World Health Organization lists China’s suicides for both sexes at 7.8 per 100,000 — ranked #94 compared to 170 countries?  That means there were 93 countries with higher suicide rates, and the United States was one of them at #50.

Guyana was #1 with 44.2 suicides per 100,000, but USA Today didn’t run a story on that country. If they did, I didn’t find it through Google, but Google had no problem finding the one USA Today did on China.

To be fair, USA Today did report in 2014: 40,000 suicides annually, yet America simply shrugs, and said, “Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. Homicides have fallen by half since 1991, but the U.S. suicide rate keeps climbing.”

What about comparing China to several other Western democracies?

  • France was ranked #47
  • Germany was #77
  • United Kingdom was #105
  • Canada was #70
  • Australia was # 63

What are the reasons why five out of six (including the U.S.) of these Western democracies had higher rates of suicide than China — too much freedom maybe? (Note: I didn’t check all the democracies on the list to see how many had lower or higher rates of suicide than China.)

I know of one Chinese man’s suicide first hand and an attempted suicide by a Japanese woman, and both took place in California.

When our daughter was nine, we were hiking along trails in the hills near our Southern California home. She rushed ahead of us on the winding path until we lost sight of her.

Then she ran back saying she saw a man hanging from a tree and he looked dead. My friend Neil and I hurried to the hanging tree. While Neil climbed into the tree to see if the man was alive, I called 911.

When the police arrived, they searched the dead man’s wallet and called his mother’s house. It turns out that he was an architect from Taiwan. We discovered that his Taiwanese company had gone bankrupt, and he saw himself as a failure. He was about age 40.

The second incident I read about in the Los Angeles Times a few years back was about a Japanese woman who had taken her young children to the end of Santa Monica pier and leaped into the ocean with them. Surfers managed to save her but all of her young children died.

Her reason for attempting suicide was that her husband, a Japanese executive working in the US, had an affair. When the Japanese wife discovered her husband was cheating on her, she thought she had failed as a wife, and the only way to erase the shame was to kill herself and her children.

Since she was a Japanese citizen, Japan requested that she be returned to Japan. The reason given was due to cultural differences.

And last but not least, Americans have also used suicide as a form of protest against their own government. For instance, in 1998, The New York Times reported that the I.R.S. settled a widow’s lawsuit over the suicide of her husband. “A woman who accused the Internal Revenue Service of driving her husband to suicide said today that the agency had agreed to settle her $1 million lawsuit by eliminating her tax debt of more than $400,000 and letting her keep her home.”

The man’s wife, a librarian, said, “”When they decided to take everything I had (after her husband killed himself), I decided to fight back against the most feared and loathsome agency in the United States.”

And in 2010, Daily Finance.com reported that “8% of those surveyed (in the United States) said they would be willing to commit suicide “as an aggressive form of protest” in order to be heard by Congress about their student loan plight.”

Why do you think the U.S. media pays so much attention to suicides in China while ignoring so many other great suicide stories in other countries like the U.S.?

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Amy Chua’s Suicide Critics

January 23, 2011

Some critics of Amy Chua blame the so-called high rate of suicides in China as an argument that Chinese/Asian Tough Love is wrong.

I suspect these ignorant critics don’t know much about Chinese culture or the most common reasons for suicides in China or countries such as Japan.

Most of the suicides in China are not caused by loving Tiger Mothers that spend hours a day emphasizing education above all else instead of allowing children to watch hours of TV and/or playing video games while ignoring books and homework as in the US. 

Those suicides are results of cultural pressures that go far beyond Tough Love. Loss of face and/or becoming a failure is often the reason one commits suicide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the suicide rate in China in 1999 was 28 of every 100,000 people.

In the US, that number was 21.7 per 100,000.  The WHO shows that the Ukraine has a much higher rate than either China or the US at 62.1 per 100,000 with the Russian Federation reporting more than 80 per 100,000.

I suspect poverty and oppression are a stronger reason than loving but strict Tiger Mothers.

Thailand, with its share of Asian Tiger Mothers, was eight per 100,000. Singapore was 18.9 while Japan was 50.6

China was almost tied with Sweden’s suicide rate, which was 27.7 per 100,000.

However, China and Japan almost tied for female suicides at 14.8 for China and 14.1 for Japan.

What could be the cause?  Possibly children like Amy Chua’s youngest daughter Lulu rebelling until the mother is so depressed she takes her life because she considers herself a failure.

Maybe writing Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother was Chua’s way to deal with the sense of failure she must have felt when Lulu broke that drinking glass in Moscow and shouted at her mother she hated her for being so strict. If so, writing a memoir is better than suicide and writing is a great way to deal with depression.

The WHO shows Australia has a higher suicide rate than China at 37.1 per 100,000. Why didn’t Amy Chua’s critics point this out? I suspect the reason is that they are too lazy to do the research. After all, learning something new might take time away from watching TV or social networking on Facebook.

 

Moreover, the number of women committing suicide in Lithuania in 2000 was 16.1 per 100,000. Sri Lanka suicide rate was 16.8 women and 44.6 for men.

I know of one Chinese suicide first hand and an attempted suicide by a Japanese woman. Both took place in California, and the reasons had nothing to do with Tiger Mothers.

The high school where I taught had a high percentage of Philippine students. I taught many and Philippine mothers often practice Tough Love as Amy Chua does.  I had one Philippine girl break into tears when she earned an A- on a test. She made it up by doing all the extra credit, which Amy Chua says isn’t an option in China.

The WHO says the suicide rate in the Philippines in 1993 was 4.2 per 100,000 people. Do you see the decimal between the four and the two?  That number is more than five times lower than the suicide rate in the US.

I’m shocked!

What could America’s Politically Correct Self-esteem driven mothers be doing wrong? After all, who else could we blame for the gap between US suicides and those in the Philippines except America’s mushy soft-love mothers.

When our straight “A” student, Chinese-American daughter was nine, we were hiking along trails in the hills near our Southern California home. She rushed ahead of us on the winding path until we lost sight of her.

Then she came running back saying there was a man hanging from a tree and he looked dead. 

My friend Neil and I hurried to the hanging tree. While Neil climbed into the tree to see if the man was alive, I called 911.

When the police arrived, they searched the dead man’s wallet and called his mother’s house. It turns out that he was an architect from Taiwan. My wife speaks Mandarin and the police asked her to talk to the wife and the mother, who spoke no English. We discovered that his Taiwanese company had gone bankrupt and he had taken his life due to loss of face because he saw himself as a failure. He was at least 40 if not older.

The second incident I read of was mentioned in the media a few years back.

A Japanese woman had taken her young children to the end of Santa Monica pier and leaped into the ocean taking her children with her. Surfers managed to save her but her young children died.

The reason for attempting suicide was that her husband, a Japanese executive working in the US, had an affair. When the Japanese wife discovered her husband was cheating, she saw herself as a failure, and the only way to erase the shame was to kill herself and her children. 

Since she was a Japanese citizen, Japan requested that she be returned to Japan. The reason given was due to cultural differences.

Learn from In Defense of Tiger Mothers Everywhere

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Corruption in China may often stem from Cultural Pressure

August 12, 2010

I’m thinking about what motivated the CEO of Enron and others to steal from their employees and stockholders so they could party, live in mansions and travel as if they were members of the jet set.

In America, there is a history of insider trading, securities and commodities fraud, corporate fraud, health care fraud, antitrust violations, bribery, embezzlement and organized crime.

In fact, the FBI estimates that white-collar crime costs the US more than $300 billion annually.

In China that would be more than 2 trillion yuan.

Western civilization is based on individualism so the primary motivation of those white-collar criminals would probably be individual greed.

However, in Chinese culture, the motivation to become corrupt may not be just from greed.  The American media appears obsessed over corruption in China without addressing how culture plays a role.

In rural China, the peasant, who works the fields, probably is only motivated to grow enough food so his family will not starve while selling enough to keep a roof over their heads.

Most peasants live according to the concept of Taoism, which roughly interpreted means go with the natural order of things or do as little as possible to survive while living in a passive state.

Confucianism teaches the opposite and has more influence in urban China where most of China’s middle class lives and works. Here, loss of face is enough to motivate the individual to become corrupt so he will not look like a loser in the minds of his family, associates or friends. The other choice is suicide.

Since Jesus Christ supposedly said, “Let he who has no guilt cast the first stone”, I want to mention that I read about representatives in both houses of Congress in Washington DC costing the US taxpayer about a million annually for moral corruption. Why—to settle with abused congressional employees, who have been harassed (I’m thinking sexual) or treated badly by their political bosses over the past 14 years. Source: Politico

Back to corruption in Taiwan and China.

The Economist reportedthat corruption flourishes in Taiwan in the judicial system.  The same piece also says that Chen Shui-bian, the former president of Taiwan from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is serving a 20 year sentence for corruption.  On the next page of the July 24th issue is another piece about academic fraud in (mainland) China.

Although greed may play a role in Chinese corruption, another factor may be a more powerful force and that is maintaining, “face” or increasing it since upwardly mobile Chinese are expected to constantly gain face.

To do this, one has to gain in wealth, stature or reputation. This puts a lot of pressure on a Chinese man, which reminds me of the Taiwanese architect our daughter found hanging dead in a tree a few years back during a family hike in Southern California.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Cultural Differences, the Ignorant American and the Architect who Hung Himself

May 20, 2010

Another day, when our daughter was seven, we were hiking in the hills above a park in Southern California. On our way out of the hills along a steep-dirt trail leading toward the park, our daughter rushed ahead.

Minutes later, she was back looking shocked. She took us to her discovery.

An Asian man had hung himself in a tree beside the trail. He’d used an electric cord. It was obvious that he had climbed into the tree, tied the cord to a limb and around his neck and leaped off.

I called the police on my cell phone. They came, identified who he was and went to his mother’s house. The mother and sister arrived and my wife talked to them (for the police) since the mother and sister didn’t speak English.

The dead man was a Chinese architect from Taiwan. He was a partner in a business that had gone bankrupt and he could no longer support his family. Because he had lost face, he killed himself.

In fact, since the global economic crises caused by US, Wall Street greed, family suicides have been on the rise in Taiwan.

See how Power Corrupts

____________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


Cultural Differences and the Ignorant American

May 20, 2010

Unlike the citizens of Europe or Asia, most Americans seldom rub shoulders with other cultures or spend time outside of the United States aside from Latinos from south of the border who washes the cars, mows lawns or washes the dishes Americans eat from when going out to eat in a restaurant.

Don’t mistake having a foreign friend as rubbing shoulders with another culture. To know a culture you have to live there or discover that culture through study.  Even then, nothing compares to living in another country as an expatriate like Tom Carter, who taught English in China before he went on the road to shoot “China: Portrait of a People.”

Recently I posted another response to Timothy V at Left of the Right. I used examples to show differences between cultures. Those examples appear in this seven part series.

It starts with the wife of a Japanese corporate executive working in the US, who tried to kill herself and her children by jumping into the ocean off the Santa Monica pier. She took her two children with her. (to be continued in the next post)

Learn about The First of all Virtues

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.