Falun Gong's Contribution to Mental Health -- Written on the Fifth Anniversary of the April 25, 1999 Appeal
(Clearwisdom.net) The suicide rate in the modern world is high and increasing, and China, a country dedicated to economic advancement, is no exception.
Every year, 287,000 people in China die from suicide
According to a report from the Xinhua News Agency, the result of an investigation conducted on November 26, 2002 shows that every year 287,000 people in China die from suicide. On the morning of November 26, 2002, Dr. Li Xianyun from Beijing's Mental Crisis Research and Intervention Center announced that suicide is the fifth cause of death behind cerebral disease, tuberculosis, chronic pulmonary emphysema, lung cancer and pneumonia. Suicide is also the number one cause of death among 15 to 34-year-olds.
These statistics reveal that the average suicide rate in China is 23 in 100,000 people. Of all people who die every year, 3.6% of them took their own life, which is 19% of the total number of deaths in their respective age group. Women's suicide rate is 25% higher than men. This difference is more prominent among peasants, whereas in developed countries, the male suicide rate is three times that of women.
In the past five years, between 70 and 100 million Falun Gong practitioners were placed in a perilous situation
On April 25, 1999, approximately 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners exercised their constitutional right to appeal to the State Council's Appeals Office on Fuyou Street in Beijing. The world waited intently as the practitioners conducted their appeal in a peaceful, rational, tolerant and highly self-disciplined manner. Nevertheless, on July 20 of the same year, Jiang's political group began a political campaign of persecution targeting Falun Gong and began using the government machinery to demonize and attack Falun Gong. For a time, the public widely held a misunderstanding due to the propaganda and thought those practitioners who went to appeal must have had political motives, and that the appeal triggered the persecution.
The appeal of April 25, 1999 was neither a sudden, accidental event, nor was it the kind of political demonstration involving the seizure of a government compound as falsely claimed by Jiang Zemin. From the written attacks that begun during the July 1996 Guangming Daily incident, to the mobilization of police and use of violence in Tianjin in April 1999, the development and escalation of the persecution happened over a period of three or four years before the April 25, 1999 appeal. (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2003/7/13/38091.html)
According to a Clearwisdom report from April 12, 2003, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who were tortured to death reached across 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The provinces with the highest death rate are Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Hubei and Sichuan. Women make up approximately 52%, and the elderly (50-70 years old) approximately 31% of the total number of deaths.
According to the Chinese government's internal records, the actual number of practitioners who died after being arrested had reached 1,600 by the end of October 2001. In addition, there are at least 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners who have been illegally sentenced to prison. Over 100,000 practitioners have been sentenced to forced labor camps. Thousands of practitioners, with no previous history of mental illness, have been forcefully sent to psychiatric hospitals to be tortured with injections that are damaging to the central nervous system. Large groups of Falun Gong practitioners have been forcibly sent to local brainwashing centers where they have been subjected to both extensive physical and psychological torture. Many more practitioners have been severely beaten and large sums of money confiscated from them by corrupt law-enforcement officials who took this money for themselves and were above prosecution by the law. The persecution against Falun Dafa is still ongoing, and hundreds of tortures have been documented, including one known as, "five horses splitting the body" [the practitioners' four limbs are pulled in four directions, causing excruciating pain], injections of nerve damaging drugs and electrical shocking with high voltage electric needles are used daily. The single goal of all these tortures is to force Falun Gong practitioners to give up their belief.
Perseverance and compassion
Throughout these past five years, countless Dafa practitioners suffered torture, detention, homelessness and along with them, so have their families, friends and colleagues suffered under the dictator's government machinery. Considering the statistics, that 287,000 people commit suicide every year, how do these practitioners handle themselves?
Transcend selfishness and care for others
A Clearwisdom reporter interviewed a Falun Gong practitioner who said, "Yesterday I was envied because I was healthy from practicing Falun Gong, and today I am a social outcast. It is difficult to deal with the pressure and the lies. I was at first depressed, because many of my fellow practitioners were arrested, but after all these years I have learned to transcend myself, and I have changed from being anxious and angry to being compassionate toward other people in the society.
"Right now, I really care about people's attitude toward Dafa, because people and countries who won't accept 'Truth--Compassion-Tolerance' will not have a good future; on the contrary, if they can accept these three words they will have a good future, even if they currently have some problems."
Falun Gong practitioner Wang Chan in Mainland China has stepped forward to uphold Dafa after July 20, 1999 and was detained because of his courageous actions. He was forced to leave home. Wang Chan was one of the first Falun Gong practitioners who realized that Dafa disciples should clarify the truth to people. In the three years of his life in exile, he went to many places and clarified the truth to people. Lawless officials became furious and fearful, and had posted a 100,000 Yuan reward for his capture. Wang Chan was thin because he had no source of income and could not afford to eat regularly, but he was healthy, sincere, outgoing, optimistic, fulfilled and determined. In a letter to another practitioner he said, "It looks like I'm undergoing a bit of tribulation right now, but my heart is content, because I am cultivating in Dafa and I'm becoming a better person." Wang Chan gave up everything he had to help people learn the truth, and his story touched many. There are countless Falun Gong practitioners like Wang Chan in Mainland China.
Enduring tribulation and spreading the seeds of hope
In the past five years, of those Falun Gong practitioners who stepped forward to tell people the truth, some lost their lives, some were incarcerated, others were tortured, some were fired and some were forced into homelessness. In order to expose this persecution and restore their freedom of belief, Falun Gong practitioners truly exercised "Truth, Compassion, Tolerance."
Instead of being suppressed, Falun Gong instead spread far and wide in the world. Many countries consider Falun Gong to be representative of the values in Chinese culture. On special occasions such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., American Independence Day and others, many local and foreign governments invite Falun Gong practitioners to participate in celebration activities.
Miraculous effect on improving mental health
According to a statistic published by the Chinese General Sports Administration, 70 to 100 million people were practicing Falun Gong in 1998. Since the persecution began in 1999, the official Chinese media has always spread the government propaganda that falsely claimed 1,400 people died from practicing Falun Gong in the seven years of its transmission to the public, in order to frighten the public and incite hatred against Falun Gong. According to the average annual death rate published by the government, 420,000 out of the 70 million practitioners would have died in 1999 alone had they not practiced Falun Gong. By contrast, using the standard life and death statistics published in China, even if there were such 1,400 deaths, the rate would be lower than the national average, which would actually prove the health benefits Falun Gong has shown.
Other than enabling people to persevere, be optimistic and tolerant, Falun Gong also teaches people that true practitioners cannot take a life, including their own, and Falun Gong books explain the underlying principles regarding this issue. Living by the principle of "Truth, Compassion, Tolerance" is powerful, profound and able to change one's life fundamentally. By comparing the known recorded deaths of Falun Gong practitioners, which lies somewhere between 953 (as investigated by Clearwisdom sources) or claimed as 1,600 (surmised by internal sources within the Chinese government), the majority of whom were tortured to death for their belief, to the 287,000 people who commit suicide every year, we can conclude that Falun Gong not only brings people physical benefits but also spiritual and mental health.