Schools will be able to apply for up to HK$150,000 from the Quality Education Fund to promote mental health education among students with activities such as “Retreat Days.” The Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides recommended the measure in a progress report submitted to the Education Bureau (EDB) on Friday. The committee was formed following a spate of student suicides – 20 Hong Kong students have taken their own lives since the beginning of the academic year in September 2015.

Paul Yip Siu-fai, chairman of the suicide prevention committee, said the report includes eleven recommendations for improving aspects of students’ mental health.

Eddie Ng Hak-kim (left) and Paul Yip Siu-fai (right). Photo: GovHK.

The committee’s chairman said 20 per cent of the student suicide cases studied received psychiatric help.

See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong

Eighty per cent of suicide cases in the study involved relationship issues with peers and parents, and around 60 per cent involved emotional problems, such as having a negative life attitude or having suicidal thoughts.

Eddie Ng Hak-kim. Photo: Stand News.

“The Committee found that there were complicated underlying causes for each student suicide case, and that the triggering factors were all different,” said Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who received calls for him to resign over the recent influx of cases.

Upon accepting the recommendation from the suicide prevention committee, Ng announced that EDB will be launching a campaign in all secondary and primary schools during the academic year of 2016 to 2017. The campaign will focus on enhancing student’s understanding of mental health, will increase public awareness towards the need to seek help, and will reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084.

Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.