Sunday, 15 December 2013

Elderly Hunan villagers prefer suicide to living without medical care

Mo Qiulian ties up small bundles of firewood as she murmurs to herself: “Why haven’t I died?”
The 67-year-old villager has thought of killing herself many times since she had a stroke in March, followed by four months of lying in bed unable to move before regaining some mobility in her upper body.
Mo is one of many elderly residents in Kongtong Village of Hunan Province who say they will commit suicide one day.
They look forward in fear to a lack of medical care to deal with diseases as they get older. They are uncertain what the future holds, feeling insecure because their children left for the city and may never return, the Sanxiang City Express said yesterday.

In one community group in the village, five seniors among about 130 villagers have killed themselves in the past eight years.
Most of the others have thought about doing the same.
Latest data from Beijing Suicide Research and Prevent Center shows that about 100,000 people over the age of 55 commit suicide in China every year, or 36 percent of the total number of suicide cases, according to the People’s Daily website, and the rate in rural areas has always been higher than in the cities.
According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevent, a sixth of Chinese people aged 65 or older suffer from clinical depression.
“It is a wise decision to end life like that,” Kongtong villager Yang Qingyuan said. “That way, they wouldn’t have to be tortured by illness anymore, nor be a burden for their children. It is another form of euthanasia.”
Yang said he would agree with an elderly person’s decision to kill themselves if they were over 70, incapable of looking after themselves, had incurable diseases, and had children who were living in poverty.
“I can no longer wash clothes, cook meals or work in the fields. Why haven’t I died?” Mo says, blaming herself for being a burden to her aging husband, Yang Jianyin. Behind her lie two coffins prepared by Yang 14 years ago.
The elderly couple live on a subsistence allowance and Yang’s income from selling hand-woven dustpans, barely enough considering that their monthly medical bills amount to around 700 yuan (US$115).
Their son has visited just once since Mo had her stroke. He has refused to take care of his aging parents.
“One day, I will crawl out of the house and drown myself in the nearby pond,” Mo said.
Source: Shanghai Daily

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