Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The China Conundrum

March 13th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Sorry to play Captain Bringdown on a Friday, but a promise is a promise. Microkhan recently vowed to explore the female suicide rate in China, and by golly, that’s what’s gonna happen in this here post. If you want sunshine and ponies instead, click here; otherwise, read on.

China is the only nation in which the female suicide rate exceeds that for males. (Both are relatively low, however, at 13.0 per 100,000 for the men and 14.8 per 100,000 for the ladies.) Even researchers who’ve dedicated their careers to the topic aren’t entirely sure why that’s the case. But the best guess comes in this 2006 paper, from which the graph above is taken. The female suicide rate is only appreciably higher than the male one in one age demographic—roughly 25 to 39 years old. Unfortunately, despite the One Child Policy, China’s population is still relatively young, so that demographic tilt is enough to account for the overall discrepancy.

More importantly, the researchers point out that the majority of female suicides occur in rural areas, where lethal pesticides are easily accessible. Ingesting these pesticides is the chief means of suicide among females. Does this mean men prefer, uh, more manly ways of ending their lives? Or are rural men simply moving to urban areas in greater numbers than their female counterparts? (Cities have significantly lower suicide rates than rural areas in China.)

The paper doesn’t squarely address these questions, but it does suggest that urban suicide rates are catching up with rural ones. One big reason? More suicides by charcoal burning in cities like Hong Kong.

Tons more on Hong Kong suicides here, courtesy of that great city’s Jockey Club. And remember, kids, choose life—or, at the very least, leisure wear and matching luggage.


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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Tony Comstock

    Too many men in China, too few in Russia. The first Ruso/Sino Alliance had a shaky foundation, but I’m not going to bet against love!

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    I’ve actually been trying to discern which nation has the highest female-to-male ratio. May have to calculate by hand, as reliable stats are hard to come by. CIA Factbook, here I come, with calculator in hand…

  • Tony Comstock

    Seem to remember reading a short article in The Atlantic a while back that offered that too many Russian men were either drinking themselves to death, or just plain killing themselves outright. Jibes with the account in the Best Practices article I posted in another comment

    Any way, the point of the article was that Russia just might give us a clue as to what the world will be like c. 2050 when the Earth’s human population is projected to level off, then shrink.

    I’ll probably be dead by then, but it looks like things could get interesting for my daughters and yet to be born grand children.

  • Jordan

    The BBC would like to nominate Australia:


  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Wow. Copious women, beer, and meat pies. Australia’s coastal cities have it going on.

  • Tony Comstock

    RE: Australia

    Nice place, so long as you don’t mind having to submit your movies, magazines and video games for government approval.