SCMP Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Depression can grip women in hard times, warns Caritas


The social welfare group Caritas has warned that women, especially housewives and working mothers, are vulnerable to depression and suicidal thoughts amid the economic downturn.
The warning was issued as several women, who had tried to commit suicide, shared their experiences at a conference organised by the Caritas Family Service Centre, in Wan Chai, yesterday.
One woman, whose suicide note e-mailed to the South China Morning Post three months ago was passed on to the centre, said she had planned to kill herself and her daughter after running up huge debts.
"I had gone as far as surfing online to find a particular Web site which outlines the various methods of suicide, such as burning charcoal, and bought what was needed for it," she said. "When social workers first tried to contact me through e-mail, I was reluctant to reply as I was worried they might take my child away, but I was touched when they kept sending me e-mails."
Housewife Cheng Yee, 45, said she fell into depression four years ago, but that counselling had helped her recover.
The centre, which has been helping the women, said that it was concerned with the recent number of suicides that had been reported.
"A lot of women, especially working mothers, are coming under enormous pressure from work and home. Their emotions would fluctuate a lot," said Paulina Kwok Chi-kwok, a social worker with the centre.
In the 12 months to August, the centre handled 1,133 cases of people who had either attempted suicide or wanted to. It handled 1,851 cases of depression. The majority of the cases concerned women.