Suicide rate also linked to struggling business owners, lawmaker claims

Lawmaker José Pereira Coutinho claims that recent cases of suicide, which occurred in the Northern District, are related to the incapacity of small business owners to deal with accumulated debts, he told the media on the sidelines of the Legislative Assembly Media Spring Luncheon.

“What is happening at the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Rua do Cunha is not what is happening in Macau at large; it is particularly in the Northern District where people and shop owners are struggling with debts and with no prospects of improvement,” he said, noting he had recently spoken to the family of one person who committed suicide after dealing with difficulties since the start of the pandemic.

“I have been constantly calling for the resumption of consumption cards and other support measures but these shop owners told me that they now believe that not even this is worth[while] anymore. It seems like local residents have changed their consumption habits to acquire all goods and services across the border [via online platforms], which is killing the local businesses.”

Pereira Coutinho noted this to be a very serious matter that is not being addressed by the government, particularly taking into account the high banking interest rates which make it impossible for people to continue to fulfill their contracted obligations.

As the Times previously reported, Macau saw a total of 88 suicides in 2023, an increase of 10% when compared to the previous year when 80 cases were recorded.

Health authorities also noted that the incidence of such cases was particularly high in the last quarter of 2023.

The same authorities have consistently stated that suicide may be related to mental illness, chronic or physical diseases, gambling, or financial problems but without providing any accurate data or information on the local cases.
Recently, in an interview with a local Real Estate agent, the Times was also informed that there were at least two cases of people renting commercial spaces with this agent with the business owners committing suicide in the space of just a couple of weeks.

According to the agent, operating mostly in the Central District, one of the cases occurred at the end of 2023 while the second was at the beginning of this year.

Disgraceful salary updates

The same lawmaker also noted that in general and concurrently, workers’ salaries are not commensurate with Macau’s real inflation and with the development of the society.

“We see that the gaming industry revenues are excellent but the companies only increased their workers’ salaries by 2.5%. This is outrageous. The workers have made so many sacrifices over the three years of the pandemic period and now when the revenues have recovered, they [the gaming concessionaires] do a distribution of profits among the stakeholders but when they arrive at the level of the labor force that contributed to their results and ultimately the wealth of the Macau SAR, they get some disgraceful 2.5% of salary update,” he concluded.

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