Among the highest in the world, China’s suicide rate is a source of growing concern for health organizations inside and outside the country. The country has 21 percent of the world’s population but is responsible for between 30 percent and 40 percent of the world’s suicides—totaling more than 287,000 deaths each year. A further 2 million try to commit suicide each year, and a staggering number of these attempts are by women, young people, and those living in rural areas. According to the 2010 Human Rights Report on China, suicide rates among women were three to four times higher than among men, with approximately 500 women committing suicide in 2009 each day. Suicide today remains the No. 1 cause of death among young people in the country and the fourth-highest cause of death among all age groups.
But things have begun to look up. Efforts by both the Chinese government and other health organizations have contributed to a 15 percent drop in suicides since the early ’90s, China’s state press agency, Xinhua, reported last year. In addition to more women relocating to urban areas, where suicide rates are lower, a 24-hour suicide hotline has been set up, better attention has been paid to treating mental illnesses, and more recently, an increasing number of people about to attempt suicide have been rescued. In this picture, a man threatening suicide is moved inside after a team distracts him with a loudspeaker. See photos of more rescues.