Control CHARCOAL sales and save lives

Bulletin HKU Aug 2010

The findings of a pilot study on restricting of sales of charcoal in Hong Kong were everything Professor Paul Yipcould hope for: they pointed to a way to reduce suicides, they were evidence-based, they received international recognition. The only problem is, the results have yet to be put into action to help Hong Kong people territory-wide.

Professor Yip and his team conducted a one-year study comparing suicides in Tuen Mun, where charcoal packs were removed from the open shelves of major retail outlets, to those in Yuen Long, where charcoal was sold openly as usual. Charcoal burning related suicides fell sharply in Tuen Mun, by 31.8 per cent, but similar results were not seen in Yuen Long. Apparently, the lack of easy access to charcoal frustrated potential suicides or made them think twice, and they didn’t follow through. The results compared to an overall drop in Hong Kong’s suicide rate of 5.7 per cent during the same period.

Download HKU Bulletin 2010 Aug (p20-21)

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