Taiwanese Premier and Taipei Mayor join forces against suicide at Buddhist event

Taipei Times, Sept 11, 2006

Taipei, Taiwan -- Premier Su Tseng-chang and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou attended an event yesterday sponsored by the Buddhist Dharma Drum Mountain Foundation to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

<< Master Sheng Yen, center, from the Buddhist Dharma Drum Mountain Foundation is accompanied by Premier Su Tseng-chang, left, and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou at an event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day in Taipei yesterday.

Addressing those in attendance, Su said his brother-in-law killed himself by jumping from his office in a high-rise building in Taipei last month.

The relative's death -- a suicide that added one more to the country's rising record -- has left the family grief-stricken but with no clue as to why he did it, Su said.

Su said Taiwan has a suicide rate lower than those of Japan and South Korea, but the figure has continue to rise in recent years, even though Taiwan's unemployment rate has declined gradually.

The premier offered his appreciation to the foundation and other religious groups for helping prevent suicidal behavior.

Noting that the government's strength and resources are limited in terms of suicide prevention, Su invited the public to pitch in with efforts to save lives.

Also addressing the event, Ma, who is also chairman of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said the total number of Taiwanese who committed suicide has doubled in the last five years -- from around 2,000 people in 2000 to some 4,000 in last year. More than 16,000 Taiwan people have killed themselves over the past five years, Ma lamented.

Ma said the Taipei city government has promoted sport to help prevent suicidal behavior.