TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - About 60 percent of Taiwan's youth have considered suicide while more than 30 percent lack direction in life, because of a lack of public role models and weakened family support, a magazine survey found this week.
Taiwan-based CommonWealth magazine's first ever Life and Education Survey of 4,475 students between 15 and 22 found that most had thought about suicide, with 23 percent still considering it, survey center director Huang Ching-hsuan said on Thursday.
About 34 percent of respondents said they had no idea what to do in life, the mail survey found.
"We were extremely surprised by the results," Huang said. "Also we had quite a high response rate to the questionnaires."
Over the past five years teens in 23 million-population Taiwan have lost public role models since the 2008 death of Taiwan super-tycoon Wang Yung-ching and the conviction of ex-president Chen Shui-bian for graft this year, Huang said.
"This is an age of no role models," she said. "Teens today just know to test into good universities, but then what?"
Family ties have weakened over the same period as numbers of children per household decrease while both parents work, she said. Children are often sheltered to a point where they can handle no setbacks, even the death of a pet, she said.
CommonWealth, an authoritative privately funded magazine with island-wide bi-weekly circulation of 100,000, has published surveys for about 10 years on trends in Taiwan.
Following years of inflation and income stagnation that had put pressure on common families, Taiwan unemployment surged to record levels earlier in the year as the export-reliant economy went into recession.
As many as 4,400 people commit suicide per year, government statistics say.
Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Sugita Katyal