CCGL9053 Global Issues

Suicide: Risks, Research, and Realities

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)
  • The Human Life Span (HL)

Course Description

Nothing surpasses life and death, and the complicated decision to take one’s own life, as an issue of profound significance. Despite the advances in quality of life that have been achieved, the World Health Organization estimates one suicide death worldwide every 40 seconds. Why do some countries have higher suicide rates than others? What can explain the cross-border trends and discrepancies for suicides in Hong Kong in relation to Mainland China and the rest of the world? How are new trends in social media informing suicide research? What are the biochemical and neurological links between depression, substance abuse, and suicide? And, finally, what new developments have occurred in the field of suicide prevention?

In this course, students will gain a wide range of perspectives (social science, neuroscience, ethics, and community outreach) to enlighten their understanding of suicide and its prevention. We will traverse an arc that encompasses the very small scale (neurotransmitters on brain cells), to individuals (communication, bereavement, shame, guilt, psychological states), to societal subpopulations (at risk groups, means restriction strategies, media effects), to the world at large (global trends).

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast the trends for suicides in Hong Kong versus other selected places and reflect on enacted policies across countries and regions.
  2. Evaluate the outlets available for coping – both for high risk contemplators of suicide and those bereaved from suicide losses.
  3. Describe the neurobiology, sociology, and psychology of suicide and suicide risk, the genetic imprint of early life adversity and influences from subsequent life events as they relate to suicide risk.
  4. Compare how suicidal thoughts and suicidal acts are communicated via social media, the suicide note, and face-to-face interactions between attempt survivors/the bereaved and healthcare professionals.
  5. Identify challenges and opportunities for suicide prevention and harm reduction, with an aim for practical interventions.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 30
Film screening and discussion 3
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Assessment: Essay writing 24
Assessment: In-class quizzes (incl preparation) 15
Total: 124

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Quizzes 16
Participation in lectures and tutorials 24
Reflection paper 30
Group Project 30

Required Reading

Additional readings will be provided throughout the semester.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor P.S.F. Yip
HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 2831 5232
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor P.S.F. Yip
HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 2831 5232