TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The death of a young man on Tuesday (Nov. 17) marks the sixth suspected suicide incident involving a college student in Taiwan in the past nine days, prompting university administrators and government agencies to scramble for answers.
On Tuesday, a male National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) student was found to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, marking the sixth probable suicide attempt and fifth death by apparent suicide since a National Taiwan University (NTU) student plunged to her death on Nov. 9. In response, Taiwan Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) urged all schools to connect more closely with students in need of counseling.
According to statistics from suicide hotline Taiwan Lifeline International, there were 570,000 calls last year, but only 190,000 were connected. This connection rate of just 33 percent means the missed call rate is alarmingly high. Legislators are now calling on the Ministry of Health and Welfare to address the issue and conduct a review.
The following is a list of the six suspected suicide cases reported since Nov. 9:
Nov. 9 - NTU female student falls from campus building
A 20-year-old female college student surnamed Yang (楊), who was studying in the Department of History at National Taiwan University (NTU) fell from the top floor of the campus complex on Nov. 9 and lost consciousness. The Taipei Fire Department received a report at 12:39 p.m. and sent paramedics to the campus.
Paramedics rushed her to the hospital, but unfortunately, Yang suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). She was pronounced dead one hour after paramedics had arrived.
The police subsequently reviewed surveillance camera footage and confirmed that Yang had walked to the top floor alone and then fell. Only her wallet was left at the scene, and no suicide note was found.
Yang’s family said that she was emotionally unstable and had a record of receiving psychiatric treatment. However, they had not noticed anything amiss when she left for school that morning.
Nov. 11 - NTU male student hangs himself inside campus dorm
A 26-year-old male student surnamed Wu (吳), a Chinese national, apparently hanged himself in his dormitory at NTU on the evening of Nov. 11. In his dormitory, the authorities found a suicide note explaining how his family should deal with his belongings and laptop.
The suicide note did not explain why he chose to take his own life, other than the act had "nothing to do with others." After a preliminary investigation by prosecutors and forensic experts, foul play was ruled out.
The university has asked his parents in China to come to Taiwan to handle the arrangements for Wu's funeral. In order to allay doubts among family members about the cause of death, blood samples were also taken.
It is reported that on Nov. 11, his family was unable to contact him for an extended period, as he was not responding to calls or text messages. Therefore, they reported the case to the police and the school.
Nov. 13 - NTU male student falls from campus building
After the previous two suicides occurred within three days of each other, a 22-year-old male NTU student surnamed Chen (陳) fell from the building of the College of Social Sciences on Nov. 13 and landed in a pond next to the building, terrifying nearby students.
Chen suffered multiple fractures to his limbs and was unconscious. Paramedics immediately rushed him to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Fortunately, Chen regained consciousness the next day, and his condition has gradually stabilized.
Nov. 14 - TKU student falls from campus building
A 21-year-old student named Wang (王) fell from the Tamkang University (TKU) School of Business and Management and landed on the boardwalk, fracturing his right hand and leg. At the time, he was conscious and was rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung.
Later, he was transferred to the intensive care unit for treatment. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.
When police inspected the scene, they initially could not confirm which floor he fell from. Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to find out what transpired and will question Wang after his condition stabilizes.
Nov. 16 - TUMT female student burns charcoal
On Nov. 16, a fifth-year female student at Taipei University of Marine Technology (TUMT) surnamed Lin (林) did not show up to class, and her father was unable to reach her by phone. After the school reported that Lin had not attended her classes, her father at 9 p.m. called for an ambulance to be dispatched to her Tamsui rental apartment.
As the door was locked and no one had a key, a locksmith was called to open it. When paramedics entered Lin's apartment, they were shocked to see the lifeless bodies of Lin and her 19-year-old boyfriend, surnamed Tung, inside.
As smoldering charcoal was found at the scene, the preliminary assessment by police is that the couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but no suicide note was found. The police have blocked off the scene, and the exact cause of death is under investigation.
Nov. 17 - NCKU male student burns charcoal
A 22-year-old Chinese major at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) surnamed Liu (劉) was found to have been burning charcoal in his room early on Tuesday morning (Nov. 17) at his rented house. Tainan City Fire Department quickly arrived at the scene and found that Liu did not have any vital signs.
Paramedics then rushed Liu to National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKU) for emergency treatment. However, doctors were unable to resuscitate him, and he was declared dead at 6:40 a.m.
Earlier that morning, another college student who lived next door to Liu's rental apartment began to notice acrid smoke emitting from Liu's room. When the landlord arrived, he found the door locked and water flowing out from under it.
The landlord hastily opened the door and rushed in. Once inside, he saw burning charcoal and Liu lying unconscious, so he alerted the police.
Liu had reportedly broken up with his girlfriend a few months ago but was unable to recognize the end of their relationship and frequently harassed her. The woman eventually contacted the university for assistance, and it began providing Liu with psychological counseling.
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