Failure Is Worse Than Death for Hong Kong

Last year, there were four student suicides over five days.

by Justin Heifetz​​
Mar 30 2017, 8:53pm

In Hong Kong—a Chinese metropolis that moves at a breakneck pace, with people squeezed elbow-to-elbow on sidewalks and living neck-to-neck in narrow high rises across the city—competition is fierce.

The notion that financial success is paramount begins in secondary school. College entrance exams are widely seen as the first step to making it into a company that will afford a stable life in the former British colony, where a new home will be more expensive than anywhere else in the world. That pressure to succeed permeates every corner of life, from school to the dinner table. The pursuit of perfect scores may be the trigger behind an alarming spike in student suicides.

Between 2013 and 2016, 71 students in Hong Kong took their own lives; last year, there were four student suicides over five days. The victims included an 11-year-old. In the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years, there were 19 student suicides each year. During the 2015-2016 academic year, that number ticked up to 33.

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