Uptick in Chinese Middle Manager Suicides Alarms Officials

Chinese government officials – mostly middle-aged middle managers – who have died by suicide in the wake of corruption charges in recent years have alarmed officials who keep somewhat accurate data on such social phenomena.

The South China Morning Post reports that at least 243 who increasingly became paper-pushers in the colossal, bogged down bureaucracy died by suicide between 2009 and 2016, most during President Xi Jinping’s clamp down on government corruption starting in 2013.

In November alone, the paper reports, at least six local officials took their own lives. They include a city social security supervisor who jumped to his death from his office window; a municipal finance leader, a former province cyber administrator and the deputy mayor of the capital city of Inner Mongolia – all of whom hung themselves.

In 2013, Xi started an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign “to consolidate his hold on power and strengthen the legitimacy of the ruling Community Party,” reported the Post. Nearly daily reports circulate of party and government officials who are detained or jailed on corruption charges.

Xi’s administration claims that “more than one million” officials have been punished in its quest to temper rampant corruption among government supervisors and civil servants.

While officials reporting the date to the state media call the deaths “abnormal,” depression remains a stigma in the Chinese culture. Officials often reason that men who kill themselves were suffering from depression – or they did not release any details at all about a high-profile administrator’s death.

China Central Television released a report that attributed depression and other stressed-caused illness to officials who work long hours under great pressure.

The newspaper seized upon the previous lifestyle of the state-accused managers as a potential main reason for the suicides. Many of them allegedly lived the high life, replete with “lavish wining and dining” while doing out favors “in exchange for bribes in collusion with unscrupulous businessmen.”

However, Xi’s campaign has reportedly been successful in halting extravagant lifestyles, resulting in never-ending bureaucratic paperwork and numerable meetings for men who may have enjoyed an easier job with perks.

“Like someone forced off the object of their addiction, many officials have suffered serious withdrawal symptoms,” writes the South China Morning Post. “Worse, they live in fear they will be the next target of the relentless anti-graft campaign.”

A Henan University study showed that more than 50 percent of the middle-aged, middle-ranked officials elected to jump to their deaths. Others chose hanging at 23 percent and drowning at 7 percent. The paper revealed that in only 56 percent of the cases, officials provided reasons for the suicides. In the other 44 percent, officials gave no reason.

Still, civic service remains popular among the masses, as more than 1.2 million Chinese took the civil service exam in November to fill only 14,500 openings. Young university graduates are reportedly drawn to the job security and health benefits of civil service jobs.

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