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Schermafdruk 2017 02 04 21.50.38The second time Lu Chun tried to kill herself, family members caught her walking to the toilet with a belt in her hand. They took it away and started a vigil, making sure someone was always at her side.  Then one afternoon, after 20 days of watching, her daughter left to grab lunch. Ms. Lu was alone only half an hour. But by the time her daughter returned, she was dead, hanging in the back yard of the family’s farm, another stroke in the grim tally of elderly Chinese who have killed themselves. China’s economic transformation has brought wrenching social change, with a nation of farmers flocking to cities, and birth restrictions wreaking havoc on traditional family structures. Young people have abandoned ancestral villages, leaving their parents in the countryside – a generation now struggling with solitude even as its health deteriorates and its economic circumstances languish.  The problems they face have manifested themselves in widespread incidents of suicide.  In parts of rural China today, elderly people are killing themselves at rates exceeding those in South Korea, which has among the highest suicide rates on Earth. In some Chinese villages, nearly one in three older people end their own lives. But unlike the situation elsewhere, Chinese suicide is often not rooted . . . . . read more

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