Below, I have summarized Liu Yanwu’s article, The Problem of Rural Suicide (1980-2006) [刘燕舞：中国农村的自杀问题（1980－2006)]. The article responds to previous research on rural suicide, which had focused on the changing status of rural women, rather than on the modernization of village society as a whole. Liu argues that changing intergenerational family dynamics and the rising divorce rate of rural couples has caused the changing pattern of suicide in rural China. After the article summary, I make a few observations on what research in Shenzhen contextualizes the question of rural suicide.
The Problem of Rural Suicides (1980-2009)
Abstract [translated from text]: Based on a uniform survey of 34 villages accross 7 provinces and analysis of the suicides of 604 farmers between 1980 and 2009, this author believes that the suicide rate in villages continues to rise. There has been a significant decline in young people’s suicides and the marked rise of elder suicide in contemporary villages. The declining suicide rate of young women lowered the overall rate of young people’s suicide, however, the rapid rise of elder suicide has meant that the overall rate of villager suicide continues to rise. The analysis suggests that the determining factor in this complex situation is not the migration of village young women, but rather changing intergenerational relations and the increase of divorce. At root, the more obvious systemic cause of the complex transformation of rural suicide is that modernity continues to erode villages.
Keywords: sucide rate of young women (青年女性的自杀率), suicide rate of the elderly (老年人的自杀率), transformation of intergenerational relations (代际关系变动), divorce (离婚), modernity (现代性) Continue reading