Elderly People in China Are Committing Suicide to Make Sure They Get Buried in a Cemetery Instead of Cremated
Many cultures view old age as a time for peaceful reflection and a preparation for the final journey of life. However, a few elderly people in China are being forced to hasten the process of ‘passing on’. Dozens have been voluntarily taking their own lives for a chance to be buried in a cemetery, before a government ban on burials takes effect.
The authorities of China’s Anhui province plan to close all cemeteries after June 1, simply because there isn’t any space left. The public was informed of the new rule on April 1: “Before June 1 people can still consign their bodies for burial, but after that the only option offered will be cremation.” The announcement has caused quite a stir among the elderly residents, especially in rural areas.
While the urban areas of Anhui remain largely unaffected, the decision to close down cemeteries has not gone down well with rural folks. They find the very idea of cremation horrifying, as it goes against their traditional Chinese beliefs. So the elderly have resorted to what they believe is the only option left – committing suicide in order to make the June 1 deadline.
97-year-old Wu Lixiu took her life on May 12, and 87-year-old Zhang Wenying hanged herself just a day later. In her suicide note, she wrote that she ended her life to have a decent death, and that she expected to be buried. At least seven more suicides were reported from three villages in the province. There have been similar deaths in the provincial capital as well.
“It’s hard for the old people to accept the policy, so the government should give them more time to think about it, but not carry out the policy on such notice,” argued one elder. But it appears that the suicides aren’t exactly melting the Chinese officials’ hearts. They’re quite serious about implementing the new policy – home council officials are actually visiting funeral parlors and smashing up coffins to make sure no one will break the law once the ban on burials takes effect. Now that’s just brutal, don’t you think?
Hiten A. Raja
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.