Chinese Communist party bids to halt suicide among officials

The psychological health of the aspiring leaders and officials will be assessed along with his or her other abilities in selecting senior government officials and leaders for State-owned enterprises, Wu Hanfei, chief of the examination and assessment centre of the party said.

"The country is undergoing a period of economic and social transformation. Officials face unexpected psychological pressures due to a variety of internal contradictions," Wu told China Daily.

At least 13 government officials are known to have committed suicide in 2009. There have also been at least eight suicides by officials so far this year, according to statistics released in September on www.people.com.cn.

How to assess an official's "psychological qualities" and "moral integrity" remains a challenge, he said while attending a two-day leadership forum held at Peking University.
The organisation department is trying to address the problem by building a pool of questions for evaluating candidates and selected more than 60,000 questions out of the proposed 170,000 he said.

"Officials' psychological health is not only related to their physical health, but also influences their leadership and executive abilities in emergency situations," said Xiao Mingzheng, chief of the human resource management research centre at Peking University said.

China improved its selection criteria for officials in recent years by taking candidates' wider abilities into consideration. The emphasis on officials' psychological health follows a string of suicides.

In the latest case, Tong Zhaohong, vice-president of the Higher People's Court of Zhejiang province, was found dead in a bathroom in his office building on Sept 21, 2010.
Tong, who committed suicide by hanging himself, left a short note on his office desk. He was reported to have been suffering from depression for a couple of months.
"Chinese officials face challenges from the conflicts that have emerged between value and morality under cultural globalisation," Liang Tiangeng, director of the human resources department under the Ministry of Agriculture, said.

"Officials' psychological outlooks will change as they become more materialistic. They will care more about immediate gratification and take a fast track to advance their careers as quickly as possible," he said.

Many of the officials who committed suicide reportedly became depressed when investigations began on their involvement in alleged cases of corruption and bribery.
Li Chengyan, a professor in the government school at Peking University, "an honest and upright political environment will help officials steer clear of corruption and its accompanying psychological pressures."

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