19 local college students took their lives last year, according to a Shanghai Education Commission study, one of the first of its kind to list the seven causes of death for college students.
Suicide topped the list, followed by acute diseases (15 deaths), traffic accidents (12), fires (4), drowning (2), manslaughter (2), and sports accidents (1).
To try and combat the number of suicides – which have only risen through the years – Shanghai universities will be adding psychological health courses to their health curricula starting next semester. The courses are being introduced in light of the realization that most of the suicidfes were attributed to preexisting mental health issues and/or stress.
According to Shanghai Daily:
To increase intervention, the commission plans to equip colleges and universities with at least one certified psychological counselor for every 3,000 students within three years, or about 200 in total. There are now only 80 such counselors, though another 241 are currently taking training course.
Psychological education courses taught by certified professionals will also be provided either on a compulsory or elective basis among all the city’s 65 colleges and universities by this year’s end, said Zhao Yang, a commission official who oversees students’ psychological health.
Issues of psychological stress most likely stem from the high pressure coming from parents and from the all or nothing manner of the College Entrance Exam (高考）. Since the introduction of the one child policy, children have become the sole focal points of their parents and grandparents attention, and have been said to adopt a “little emperor” (小皇帝） mentality. While these kids get the gifts, modern amenities and luxuries their parents never had, their perks come with an immense pressure to succeed.
Surprisingly, alcohol and drug-related deaths did not appear anywhere on the Shanghai Education Commission’s report. Stateside alcohol and drugs often rank number one or two in causes of death amongst college-age Americans. Is it because those deaths are being recorded under other “causes” or are Shanghainese college students just less likely to binge drink?