BEIJING – A mentally ill Chinese man has been kept in a cage for more than a decade by his family after he beat a child to death, local media reported, carrying images of him staring blankly though the bars.
Wu Yuanhong, 42, was shown sitting on blankets in the narrow enclosure, his feet shackled with a heavy chain and wearing only a T-shirt and underwear.
Wu was diagnosed as a schizophrenic at the age of 15 and in 2001 he beat a 13-year-old to death, the Information Daily newspaper said Monday on its website. Judicial authorities in Jiangxi province released him a year later, as his illness meant he was not legally responsible for his actions, it said.
Wu was placed in shackles after his release, but his mother, Wang Muxiang, built the cage after he escaped and wandered around his home village of Shangfan, scaring local residents. Family members cried as they put him in the cage, the report said, but after he escaped again they were forced to build a stronger structure to hold him.
“My son may be insane, and beat someone to death, but he’s still my son. To use my own hands to place him in a cage was very hard to take, like being stabbed with a knife,” the paper quoted Wang as saying.
Wang gives her son three meals a day, placing a cloth over the cage and providing a pan when he needs to relieve himself.
“Every time I delivered food, I would sit at his cage and cry,” she reportedly said, adding, “Now my tears are dried up.”
The Information Daily quoted local officials as saying they had supported Wu’s family with donations of oil and rice, adding that Jiangxi had launched limited subsidies for poor families with mentally ill relatives.
Many mentally ill people in China go without proper treatment due to a lack of resources and qualified professionals, especially in the countryside.
In 2010, the Ministry of Health said there were only around 20,000 psychiatrists to serve the country’s population of 1.35 billion, the state-run China Daily reported.
Authorities estimated in 2009 that about 170 million Chinese had some form of mental illness, while more than 16 million suffered from severe mental health problems.