An impoverished young mother from China’s Gansu province killed her four young children and herself. Her husband later killed himself as well. The murder-suicide case has gone viral on Chinese social media, as commenters wonder if the family’s poverty contributed to the turn of events.
On August 26, neighbors say Yang Gailan fed her four children, all under the age of seven, and took them with her to tend to the sheep. They never came back.
The 28-year-old mother poisoned each child with pesticide and attacked them with an ax. The children’s grandmother, Yang Lanfang, who found Yang and her children, barely alive, described to Chinese journalists how she was laughing ever so slightly.
The mother-in-law reported that Yang told her: “I can no longer take care of you. You go your way, and I will go mine.”
Yang Keying, Yang Gailan’s husband and the father of the four children, worked as a migrant worker and was away for long stretches of time. The money he sent home — about 500 US$ a year — was never enough. She struggled to care for both her four children and her husband’s parents in their dirt house in Gansu’s remote Agu Shan Village.
“They were the poorest family on this entire stretch of road,” one villager told Chinese reporters.
Yang Keying was found dead on September 3, after poisoning himself with pesticide. Ingesting pesticide is a common tool for suicide in a country where the private sale of guns is forbidden and knives heavily regulated. By contrast, pesticide is cheap and easily accessible.
China has numerous policies aimed at alleviating rural poverty, but each of them failed the Yang family. The most prominent is the minimum livelihood guarantee policy or dibao, as it is commonly called, which provides families in poverty a subsidy to bring them up …