Poverty-stricken female graduate student commits suicide at school dorm

| December 12th, 2009

[From Netease]

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Summary: On December 10, a forum post started to spread on the Chinese major BBS – Shanghai Maritime University female graduate student Yang Yuanyuan (杨元元) committed suicide in the dormitory bathroom. Criticisms pointed to the University. University publicity department then scrambled to post relevant information about the incident over night. Professor of Sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai, Hu Shoujun said the deceased already passed way, to show respect, everyone please stop judging her. He also hoped people who are alive, especially those who were born into a poor family to be strong, live on and continue to improve.

Poverty-stricken graduate student commits suicide

This forum post with the keywords “Shanghai Maritime University”, “female graduate student” and “suicide” and so on suddenly attracted netizens’ concerns and discussions, and for a while became the most popular forum post.

The author of the post wrote “last Thursday morning, Shanghai Maritime University School of Law 2009 graduate student Yang Yuanyuan hung herself with 2 towers tied together from the water faucet. She was half heeling and painfully ended her own life.”

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From Yang Yuanyuan’s request letter to school, she was from Yichang, Hubei province. Her father passed away when she was 6, and her younger brother was only 4. These years, her mother raised both kids while enduring great hardships. In 1998, Yang Yuanyuan was admitted to Wuhan University to study economics, two years later her younger brother also was admitted to Wuhan University to study environmental science.

After her brother went to college, the factory where her mother worked at has relocated. (I assume their old home was part of the factory or given by the factory) So she had to purchase a home near the new location of the factory. However at the time they did not even have enough money for Yang Yuanyuan’s tuition, and the younger brother also took a loan for school, they had no money to buy a new home. After losing the place to live, the mother went to Wuhan University and lived with Yang Yuanyuan. Wuhan University officials considered her family’s special situation, took care of them and delayed her school tuition payments as well. Finally Yang Yuanyuan finished her undergraduate with work-study programs, and her brother was also sent to Peking University for PhD program.

20091212-yang-yuanyuan-04 Yang’s letter to school requesting her mother to be allowed to live in the dorm

Mother was forbade to live in the dorm

After graduated from college, Yang Yuanyuan found a couple of jobs. Even though they were not stable jobs, but they allowed her to slowly pay off her debts and also to cumulate some savings. At that time, she already had the idea of continuing with her school. Soon she was admitted into Shanghai Maritime University School of Law, the maritime law graduate program.

At this time, Yang Yuanyuan’s mother was pushing sixty and needed to be taking care of. Yang once again took her mother to school. The neighborhood around Maritime University was remote and quiet and rent was not cheap. Yang Yuanyuan did not have extra money to rent a home, so she once again wanted her mother to stay in the extra bed at school’s dormitory. She sent numerous requests to school, explained her situation and begged school to let her mother temporality stay in school, but was not successful.

In the past two months, Yang Yuanyuan and her mother slept on the same small bed in the school dorm. But school never arranged a place for her mother and asked her to rent a place off campus. They even “forbade her mother to enter the school dormitory “. “not able find a home, Yang yuanyuan did not sleep for 5 days and 5 nights. Her mind and spirit completely collapsed; hence the tragedy happened on the morning of November 26.” The author of the forum post said.

Author said, the morning of November 26, Yang Yuanyuan’s mother had a bad feeling, worrying something was going to happen to her daughter. So she arrived at the dorm building and begged the manager to let her go up, but she was refused.

She then went to places where her daughter would always go to and also could not find her. So she called Yang Yuanyuan’s classmate at around 8:40 am, asking her to go to the dorm and take a look. After that, Mother Yang got a phone call from the classmate, she only said “Auntie, hurry and come here” then hung up. Mother Yang rushed to the dorm, and another school housing staff took her upstairs.

The door opened, mother Yang saw Yang Yuanyuan’s legs on the bathroom floor by the door. It was around 9 am, Yang Yuanyuan’s heart was still beating. They called 120 but eventually it was too late.

Mother Yang recalled on the morning of November 25, at the rented room living with her mother, she suddenly sat up from her bedcover, talking to herself “all say knowledge changes lives, I learned so much knowledge, but there are not much changes.”

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Yang Yuanyuan’s mother describs her daughter’s suicide.

 

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“Ms. Yang (teacher) we really do not want you to leave this school.” Yang Yuanyuan kept the text message her students sent her. (Yang taught at Wuhan University during Sept 2002)

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Yang Yuanyuan’s dormitory, building 24

Since the incident, Yang Yuanyuan’s brother and cousins etc. 6 family members all went to Shanghai. Up till now, School already put Yang Yuanyuan’s mother and uncle at the guest house to deal with the aftermath. The school said that the relatives’ living and meal accommodations are taking care of by the school.

The school said, currently Yang’s family demanded for 350,000 yuan of compensation for her death. Except for the 50,000 yuan going to be used for Yang’s funnel, the rest will be used to purchase a home for Yang’s mother to live. Yang’s family said they will not blame everything about Yang’s death on school, but the school is partially responsible. They though Yang Yuanyuan’s suicide was cause by her state of mind, but the school housing staffs’ terrible attitude towards Yang and her mother worsen the situation. Family hopes school to hold relevant staff members responsible, organize a funeral event for Yang Yuanyuan and make the responsible people to apologize to the family.

Comments form all sides

Students: She never asks for help

According to Yang’s classmates, she was a gentle girl, and served as student leader in school. She joined communist party when she was in the University. She was enthusiastic and modest, always was willing to help when classmates had problems, always tried to resolve conflicts between classmates.

However, she never talked about her own difficulties. She owed school money, Yang Yuanyuan always wanted to take care of it on her own. Until she paid off her debt, no one knew about it. Because she was in her 30s when she went to graduate school, she had an age difference with the rest of the students there, plus there weren’t that many students living there, it was difficult for her to communicate with others. Occasionally she was with her mother, but whether it was eating or walking, she followed her closely, she seemed lonely.

Professor from Wuhan University: She was gentle and stubborn

Professor of Economics and Management at Wuhan University heard the news and deeply regret the incident. The teacher said, Yang Yuanyuan was the student of Wuhan University in 1998. She was one of the extreme poor students. The school gave her help and care in every way they could, including giving her work –study positions, remission or deferral of payment etc. Because her original professor already left school, we could not learn more details of her situation. In the memory of her classmates, she was a gentle and stubborn girl. Her family background made her to be determined and stubborn.

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From the website of Shanghai Maritime University

Student Yang Yuanyuan, female, graduated from Wuhan University in July 2007, in September 2009 she was admitted to our international law graduate program.

After she first registered with the school on September 12, Yang yuanyuan’s mother had always lived with her in the same dorm room. After school housing staff noticed the situation, they tried to persuade her to stop letting her mother stay in students’ dorm room. On November 24, mother Yang moved out to a rental room off campus.

On November 26, 7:30 am, Mother Yang came to the dorm to look for her daughter, then she left. At 8:30 Mother Yang called Yang’s classmate from the school security booth, asked her to go take a look at Yang’s room. At 8:40 classmate went to her room and did not see her there, but her bathroom door was locked shut from inside. School security was notified and so was the facility worker in order to open the locked bathroom door. Once the door was open, they found Yang Yuanyuan already committed suicide. At the same time, School faculty, housing staff, mother Yang and some students all showed up. School security carried Yang out of the bathroom and proceeded with CPR rescue efforts, while others called 120, 110. When the school doctors arrived they also performed CPR on Yang, and soon sent her to Nanhui Central hospital. Eventually the hospital’s rescue effort failed and Yang was pronounced dead. The police arrived to school and gathered witness statements.

For Yang’s sudden death, the school felt strongly and deeply regret. We are currently following the relevant regulations to properly handle the aftermath.

Expert’s view

Sociologist: the dead is gone, the living shall be strong

Professor of Sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai, Hu Shoujun said he felt regret and sorry for her death, at the same time, he expressed his view according to netizens’ comments. He thinks as for people who are still alive, please try your best not to judge the dead, “as long as she did not commit a crime, just let her rest in peace.” This is to show respect for the dead.

Hu Shoujun thinks that the people who are alive, including the families of the deceased must learn to be strong, no matter what happens, must be strong and face things rationally. This is the correct outlook of life. China has many poor students hoping to change their destiny by studying, to this approach, he still agrees with. There are many examples from the ancient times that people change their destiny through knowledge.

Professor Hu also said that in the current downturn in employment and such a complex social background, many poor students are facing the family giving up everything for their schooling. The gap between expectation and the strong disappointment inevitably casts shadows on their minds. Professor Hu said these people’s lives should indeed be concerned, especially their state of mind. However people who were born in a poor family should also “try to make a good showing”. They have more reasons to be strong and live on. “Man should constantly strive to become stronger”, learn to psychologically strong and adaptive to society, otherwise all bets are off. After all being alive is the best way to repay your family.

16 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Fred says:

    So glad that I’m to be the first to submit today’s comments.
    Thank you Key,It’s amazing that both of us share the same perspective of this iccident.

    It’s really one of hunders of Thousands of sensational social events that happened everyday here in China.Many of others may different to this one to some extent,but ,it’s the indifference and cold manner of school authority which are the same share of apathetic hard-hearted nature that ignited resentment of most netizens .

    What a pathetic story it is.We all show our sympathy & understanding to 云云。With a hope she can enjoy a easy life (if there is…)in paradise,where is no dicrimination and inequality.

  2. Fred says:

    To get deepen of this kind of phenomenon,I feel I have lot more to voice.Friends from abroad,esp those how live in western world or community with protection of democracy,it may difficult for you to take such a thing for granted,our country do really made huge progress in economic aspect along with material life quality of improvement.however,the morality and social ethics may had enter into the lowest point in China’s history.

    More and more people feel vancant in their mind,find nothing worthwhile for life pursuing,they ran out of their basic obligations to this community and families,but give themselves crazy run for their frenzy money.Too many ordinary people find ther life goal became vague and squeezed,only bear in their mind that money and wealth is everything.

    countless of people get more and more hysterical in snatch of beneift. more and more feel unsatisfied and less thrill of their life or people or enents around them.

    To me,the current society and common life just like people living in a stuffy barrel as you can imagine how people feel.I heard one of western proverbs that “The love of money is the root of all evil”it’s really to the point.it’s no matter of the currency,but the unchanged voraciousness and selfishness that rooted in the nature of buman beings really matters.

    云云’s story really worth of our compassion,however,is that her destiny had been predestinated?What is the real meaning of the so-called predestination?and what part of your life had just been predestinated? Perplexing……

  3. Fred says:

    To compose the above context,it cost me nearly a hour to go.really tough task 🙂

  4. meerkat- says:

    ”She suddenly sat up from her bedcover, talking to herself <>”

    I swear, this has touched me deeply. I sincerely hope she’s in a better place now.

    • LazyCat says:

      Just for you meerkat: “Once upun a time the Cynics rejected all conventions, whether of religion, manners, housing, dress, or decency, advocating the pursuit of virtue in a simple and unmaterialistic lifestyle. By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to a new and very different understanding of cynicism to mean an attitude of jaded negativity, and a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of other people. Modern cynicism, as a product of mass society, is a distrust toward professed ethical and social values, especially when there are high expectations concerning society, institutions and authorities which are unfulfilled. Cynicism can manifest itself as a result of frustration, disillusionment, and distrust perceived as due to organizations, authorities and other aspects of society, and thus is roughly equivalent to a substantive form of the English word “jaded”.”

      • meerkat- says:

        Thanks but I already know this, and I can used Wikipedia as well. I’m just not sure what you’re trying to tell me…

        • LazyCat says:

          Excuse me for assuming you were being cynical when you said you were touched so deeply. I might have misinterpreted your previous comments. In case you were wondering if this single incident of human tragedy wasn’t somehow overdramatized and poorly analyzed to make an argument, I would agree with you.

          • fredhead says:

            The outcome of this story is sad. However, she can not expect the school to take care of her mothers living situation. Also, I pity her for all the knowledge she assumed she had and could not make a better judgement. She was selfish to take her own life and leave her mother sad, old, and homeless. People like her that is such a book worm should understand knowledge is not everything. Its definitely not what you know. She is just selfish and couldnt handle some little common life’s problem. There are many people out there that work their ass off, living paycheck by paycheck just to have a roof over their head. If she knew their living situation is not stable, she should of left school a long time ago and work multiple jobs to support her family instead of doodling in school and expecting the school to support her family. She should not have invest so much time in school but instead to enter the workforce, socialize, and look for a husband. Not necessarily a rich husband, but just a partner with the same situation and possibly goals to work as a team. All that damm education, and still not edumacated. Yes, I said edumacated byatchhhhhh.

  5. Joe says:

    Poor woman. Life is tough.

  6. Dani says:

    Such a sad story. Really tough.

    Thanks for the article. Great job.

  7. Flavio-Brazil says:

    So sad, always there is other ways than to kill yourself.
    Here in Brazil I can see thousands of people living in deeply poverty, miserables, living in streets, but they still want to live a better live…
    Never even think in killing yourself, always there is another way to solve a problem.

  8. fredhead says:

    la la la

    The outcome of this story is sad. However, she can not expect the school to take care of her mothers living situation. Also, I pity her for all the knowledge she assumed she had and could not make a better judgement. She was selfish to take her own life and leave her mother sad, old, and homeless. People like her that is such a book worm should understand knowledge is not everything. Its definitely not what you know. She is just selfish and couldnt handle some little common life’s problem. There are many people out there that work their ass off, living paycheck by paycheck just to have a roof over their head. If she knew their living situation is not stable, she should of left school a long time ago and work multiple jobs to support her family instead of doodling in school and expecting the school to support her family. She should not have invest so much time in school but instead to enter the workforce, socialize, and look for a husband. Not necessarily a rich husband, but just a partner with the same situation and possibly goals to work as a team. All that damm education, and still not edumacated. Yes, I said edumacated byatchhhhhh.

  9. jackie says:

    selfish of her to commit suicide and leave her mom

  10. Jake says:

    Fredhead hit the nail on the head…….Its a horrible story, but this young woman already received an education. Go get a job and make some money to support yourself. How can you blame the school? If the school let her mother live there, do you know how many other mothers would want to live in a dorm so they can save on rent.

    Its horrible that this fragile woman committed suicide, but let’s look at the entire story here.

    I also HATE how Chinese are so quick to ask for large amounts of compensation and blame others for their problems. Her mother now will get what she wanted, at a price of losing her daughter. A very sad society…………

  11. Denton says:

    Fredhead and Jake, it’s easy for you to make those comments since you’re probably not in her shoes and so you can’t relate to the extreme situation she had endured. Keep in mind it’s a different social and economic situation in China than in the US or wherever you’re from.

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