More than 20 per cent of homicides in China result from depression and perhaps could be prevented if good psychiatric care is available, a new study reports.
More than 6,000 homicide cases committed by depressed people were reported during the year 2002 to 2006, said the report made public last week at the 10th national judicial psychiatric academic symposium held in Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong Province.
"People suffering from depression often think their lives are hard," said Zhao Zhenhuan, the head of a cerebral surgery hospital in Guangzhou.
He said that patients suffering from depression would not go to that extreme if they received timely and proper treatment.
Men and women acted differently in choosing their victims, the Beijing Evening News reported the research report as saying.
In all the 6,000-strong cases, 94.4 percent of the female criminals killed their children while 63.2 percent of the male criminals killed their wives or lovers, and altogether half of the murderers committed suicide after killing, according to the report.
Statistics from the China Association for Mental Health show, China has more than 26 million people suffering from depression, with 62.9 percent of them never seeing a psychological doctor. A total of 50 percent to 70 percent of suicides or attempted suicide cases were committed by these people.
About 250,000 Chinese take their own lives each year, making suicide one of the major causes of death for Chinese people, according to Michael R. Philips, China representative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and a consultant with the Mental Health Department of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The research found out that white collar people are not the sole group who tend to suffer from depression. People in rural areas, especially those married, young or middle-aged people who did not have the opportunity to receive college education, also tend to fall to suffer from the mental disorder.
A spate of tragedies caused by mentally ill people have aroused concern in China.
Huang Wenyi, a mentally ill man in south China's Guangdong Province, murdered five family members and an employee with a hammer in late December last year.
Huang was given a death sentence with a two-year stay on July 11 this year.
In another case, Wang Ye, 32, who claimed a mental illness history, hammered her husband to death at night in October 2006 because his husband made satirical comments on her skin before they went to bed.
Wang was tried in an intermediate court in Beijing earlier this week. No sentence has been given so far.
The report highlighted that between 16.8 and 23 percent of homicides are committed by people with depression, the range of figures representing different homicide figures for different provinces.