The secret burden of mental illness in Hong Kong

Laurence Grant was 30 when he passed away last October.

Story highlights

  • Suicides in Asia make up 60% of the global total
  • One in six Hong Kong residents has a common mental disorder

Hong Kong (CNN)He just wanted help, but it proved much harder to find in Hong Kong than at home.

In one of the most densely populated areas in the world -- with many people working long hours, severe air pollution, skyrocketing home costs, strict schools and a fragile political climate -- at least one in six Hong Kong residents have a common mental disorder, such as anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders, according to two studies cited by Sherry Kit Wa Chan, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hong Kong.
    Despite the numbers, Laurence Grant discovered that the amount of resources available to those in need of mental health support was not enough.
    In October, his girlfriend, Olivia Parker, found him dead in their Laos hotel from a mix of alcohol, sleeping pills, antidepressants and antipsychotic medicine.
    "In Hong Kong, there didn't seem to be an obvious place he could go to for help," Parker said, adding that there was no implication that his death was intentional.
    Olivia Parker and Laurence Grant were together for 4½ years.
    The depression hit like "black waves," starting when Grant was a teenager in the UK, she said. "He couldn't see anything else. He couldn't get out of it. He just felt like everything good was gone from this world."
    The two we