'Bunny suicide' book withdrawn after child dies


A spate of suicides and attempted suicides by children in China’s biggest city at the start of the school year has prompted at least one bookseller to pull a popular cartoon book off the shelves.

The decision by Bookuu Book City in Shanghai to take Chinese-language version of the Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore - a collection of cartoons showing a rabbit attempting to end his life in various bizarre ways - reflects unease and soul-searching over the pressures on Chinese students.

“We took the Bunny Suicides cartoon books off our shelves because we’re worried that children might try to imitate some of those ways of killing themselves,” said Zhu Bin, a public relations officer for the bookseller.

In just over a week after the school term began September 1st, one boy killed himself and another four teens attempted to commit suicide, prompting a flurry of commentary in Shanghai’s state-run newspapers blaming the exam-oriented educational system for imposing excessive pressure on students.

The 12-year-old who took his life jumped from his family’s sixth-floor apartment as his family waited downstairs to take him to school. Newspaper photos showed his heartbroken mother cradling him in her arms.

According to a recently issued report by the China Mental Health Association, suicide is the leading cause of death for Chinese aged 15-34, with the national rate triple the world average.

The bunny suicide book, by American author Andy Riley, shows a bunny inside a toaster, throwing a boomerang with a live grenade attached, two bunnies sunning themselves on a beach while the other animals file into Noah’s Ark - and other more gruesome scenarios involving helicopter rotor blades, a guillotine, jet engines and so on.