Thursday, December 20, 2007

DEPRESSION HITS CHINATOWN


A ninth suicide this year raises concern in Chinatown community
By Chi-Zi Chen, World Journal, 2 October 2007. Translated from Chinese by Connie Yik Kong.

On October 1, Wei Min Li, 41, jumped off a motel on Bowery Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown and was pronounced dead before reaching the hospital. He was the ninth reported suicide of a Chinese person in New York City this past year. According to statistics many of the suicides were related to depression. According to sources, the suicide took place at around 9:30 a.m., two days after Li checked into a motel on 101 Bowery Street. Mr. Li fell onto the 2nd floor balcony where residents, hearing the loud noise, looked out to the window and discovered the body.

They quickly called the police. The police from the 5th Precinct and ambulance came to the scene to rescue him and send him to the New York Downtown Hospital, but he didn’t survive. A cousin of the victim told police that Li got his U.S. visa less than one year ago and lived and worked in Washington and Pennsylvania. He reported that already in China Li suffered from depression and had been struggling with it for a long time. When he came to the United States, he continued to seek treatment. Two days ago, Li came to New York to visit his relatives and sisters.

Before the suicide, his cousin said, Li could not sleep for five days. On the night of September 30, he took several sleeping pills and still could not sleep. In the morning, Li said he did not feel good. His cousin offered to buy tickets to send Li back to China, so that he could unite with his family to recover from his depression. While his cousin went out to buy tickets, Li went to the rooftop alone. After his return, the cousin learned what had happened. According to the records, most of the Chinese suicide victims were male, 19 to 74 years old.

According to a statistics released by the Chinese Embassy, the incidence of depression due to a hectic lifestyle, stress and family and marriage pressures increased noticeably in 2006. The victims included students and undocumented immigrants. According to an Asian-American mental health expert, depression is often caused by trauma and stress that happened in the past.

Many depression patients become distrustful of others; however, on the trajectory from depression to suicide, patients exhibit some signs. For example, they send their valuable possession to other people for safekeeping, often talk to themselves and suffer from insomnia. She pointed out that many people think erroneously that people who struggle with depression over a long period of time will not become suicidal because medicine could cure them. She suggested that if you notice signs of suicide attempts, you should call the suicide hotline or 911 immediately.
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