The University of Rochester and Shenzhen Kangning Hospital in China have signed a memorandum of understanding to create the Shenzhen-Rochester Collaborating Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. This is the product of collaborative prevention research and training efforts by faculty members of the Department of Psychiatry, largely funded by the NIH Fogarty International Center, to conduct research training and foster infrastructure development with multiple universities and health care institutions in China and Hong Kong.
The agreement creates a formal partnership with Kangning Hospital, an 800-bed medical center in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China. Shenzhen has grown from a small fishing village of about 30,000 in 1980 to a government-stimulated, model industrial city of 20 million residents, including 7 million migrant workers.
While suicide rates generally have declined in China during recent years, Shenzhen has faced growing numbers. Eric D. Caine, M.D., professor and former chair of the URMC Department of Psychiatry and co-director of the UR Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide (CSPS), with several CSPS colleagues has built ties with the region’s leading mental health provider. Government and health officials are seeking support to stem the problem in Shenzhen, Caine said, where rapid economic transformation is thought to have contributed to increased levels of stress. Involved UR faculty include Wendi Cross, Ph.D., Vincent Silenzio, M.D., M.P.H., and Yeates Conwell, M.D., also a co-director of CSPS.
Suicide prevention, viewed as a broad public health challenge, has provided a context for many UR faculty to collaborate with institutions in China and Hong Kong, including the Institute of Mental Health, Beijing University; the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Centre; Zhejiang University, Hangzhou; the Xiangya School of Public Health, South Central University, Changsha; Sichuan University, Chengdu; The University of Hong Kong, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Funded by Kangning Hospital, the new Shenzhen-Rochester Collaborating Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide will include URMC Department of Psychiatry faculty and staff providing support and expertise regarding:
- Research to fully understand factors associated with suicides in Shenzhen, a city with a much younger population profile than other major metropolitan areas in China;
- Development of novel evidence-based initiatives;
- Implementation and evaluation of programs and services; and
- Mentoring and training of researchers and clinicians.
“The long-standing relationship developed by URMC and colleagues in China has benefited all involved,” Caine said. “Our robust connection is evolving into something that will shed even more light on factors specific to Shenzhen and its unique history of rapid economic development, offering lessons for other nations that are in the midst of rapid economic and social transformation.”