Nine out of 10 Chinese calling into a suicide-prevention hotline in the capital Beijing are getting the busy tone, a newspaper said on Monday, adding that nationwide four people were killing themselves every minute.

So far, more than 110,000 people had dialed in to the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center hotline since it was set up in Beijing last year, the China Daily said.

It quoted an expert as saying poverty, unemployment, bereavement, breakdowns in relationships or legal and work-related problems were all causes.

But a lack of funds meant that not everyone who needed the hotline was getting through, said Michael Phillips, executive director of the suicide prevention center.

“Nine of every 10 persons only hear a busy tone,” he told the newspaper. “It’s very dangerous because they may be at high risk of committing suicide.”

Stress in urban China has increased with 20 years of economic reforms, increased competition, job losses, breakup of the traditional family unit in the cities and the dismantlement of cradle-to-grave welfare benefits.

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