Suicide by Youngster in Chinese Village Result of Poverty

October 12, 2011 11:46 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 3:24 pm
China's Vulnerable 'Left-behind Children:' Chen Xi (L), Chen Zhou (C), and Liang Xiaoyan, who all live with their grandmothers, plays at a house on March 5, 2007 in Chongqing, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)
China's Vulnerable 'Left-behind Children:' Chen Xi (L), Chen Zhou (C), and Liang Xiaoyan, who all live with their grandmothers, plays at a house on March 5, 2007 in Chongqing, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

A tragic suicide attempt by three children in a southern Chinese village left one child dead and parents and villagers grappling with the question how poor working parents in China can balance their work and family lives.

Three children, two of whom are siblings, all of them students at Nanlu Elementary School in Hetong village of Guangdong Province, tried to kill themselves on Oct. 5 by drinking pesticide. The oldest girl, 12-year-old Yang Haibo, died. Her friends, a brother and sister pair, aged 11 and nine, by the last name of Ling, survived and were treated at a hospital, according to an Oct. 8 Southern Rural News report.

The two siblings said that their parents work out of town and are seldom home. All three of them felt that their parents didn’t love them. Especially the girl who died was often scolded by her mother and didn’t feel loved by her. So the children decided to end their lives together. They took a bottle of pesticide and went to a sweet potato field at the edge of the village and drank the pesticide.

Nanfang Daily spoke with Yang Haibo’s father, a teacher at the school. Mr. Yang sadly pointed to the bulletin board near the school gate, which displayed a drawing by his daughter and text added by him. It contained a lot of words about cherishing life, the news report said.

‘Left-behind’ Children

Behind the children’s painful feelings of not getting any love from their parents, is the stress parents feel trying to support their families in China’s poverty-stricken rural areas.

Mr. Xie, a local villager, told The Epoch Times that Hetong is a very poor village. People’s main income comes from growing rice. Every person gets 0.5 mu (0.082 acres) of land, so a family of three would have 1.5 mu. The average annual income from the land is less than 2,000 yuan (US$313). If the adults don’t go to the city to work, their life will be very difficult, Xie said. Thus, more than half of the farmers in their village work elsewhere as migrant workers.

“The three kids who drank the pesticide … live with one parent or an elderly relative. They are probably lacking parental love; everyone says this is so,” he said.

Mr. Lu from nearby Dongjiang village also said the likely cause of the children’s suicide attempt was that the parents are away from home for long periods of time.

“Many children are left at home without parents in all villages. About 70-80 percent of young farmers are migrant workers in other places. So their children live with grandparents.”

Lu said the problem of “left-behind” children is poverty, and a problem of the system, a social problem.

“There is no other option but being a migrant worker. Parents are helpless. The problem of left-behind children needs to be resolved,” Lu said.

Not an Isolated Case

In recent years, Chinese media have reported several cases of elementary students committing suicide. Last July 3, five six-graders in Xinglin town of Shaanxi Province, tried to kill themselves by drinking pesticide in an old temple. They were noticed by passing-by villagers and treated at a hospital. Four of them were left-behind children of migrant workers.

Ms. Mo, a psychologist at a counseling center in Guangzhou, told The Epoch Times that many children can’t get care and love from their parents. Many parents give their children material things like money, snacks, good clothes, and school supplies every month, but they give little in spirit. What children need even more is to communicate with their parents, and to get attention and respect from their parents, she said.

“The incident happened in a poor village. Parents have to make a living as migrant workers. It’s hard to take their children with them. During adolescence, if children aren’t able to live with their parents, they lack parental care and don’t have a sense of belonging. Their character might become more extreme,” Mo said

Read the original Chinese article.