Saturday, November 30, 2002

Mental illness as social illness?

Suicide now accounts for a third of all deaths among women in the Chinese countryside. "Dr Michael Phillips, who helped lead the study, told the BBC that while 90-95% of those taking their own lives in the West suffered significant mental illness at the time of attempting suicide, around a third of those in China did not. "It appears that many of them are impulsive events following an acute fight or an argument with the husband or a parent or a mother in law," he told the World Today programme. In China, there is also a lack of social and religious taboos against taking one's own life. "In some particular villages it almost becomes normalised. If a young woman is having trouble, this is one way she'll express her displeasure," Dr Phillips said.

I've wondered if women in the West are more often diagnosed with depression than men, not because of more prevalent mental illness, but because of social statuses and situations that wear them down...


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