Family of Chinese teen believed to have taken own life after being rejected twice by birth parents call for police investigation

Investigation into death of teenage boy who killed himself after being rejected twice by biological parents.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

The adoptive family of Liu Xuezhou, 17, who is believed to have taken his own life after twice being rejected by his biological parents, has filed for a police investigation to see if any criminal charges can be brought.

Liu’s adoptive aunt, who wished to be only identified by her surname Chai, has requested police in Sanya, Hainan province, where Liu died last month, to look into his death after learning that Liu told a friend that he “would never commit suicide” just a few weeks before his death.

“We took it for granted that it was suicide, but a friend of his recently revealed that conversation and I started suspecting someone could have forced him to swallow the pills. I want the truth,” she said in a phone interview.

Teenage boy in China who was rejected twice by birth parents found dead

The young man, who was sold by his birth parents to his adoptive family in Nangong, Hebei province, northern China, at birth, died in hospital in Sanya after being found unconscious beside the sea on January 24, with a bottle of alcohol and a packet of tablets beside him.

He tracked down his biological parents in December last year and reunited with them with police assistance, but was abandoned by both once again after asking them to provide him with a place to live.

Chai, one of the adoptive relatives with whom Liu was closest, said the teen used to suffer from depression but had stopped taking medicine since he found his birth parents.

A handout photo. Liu Xuezhou, 17.
Photo: South China Morning Post

“But committing suicide is beyond my understanding of him,” she said.

Her doubts increased after a friend of Liu’s last week posted a conversation with Liu on January 11 when he reportedly said he would not kill himself and if he died, he “must have been murdered”, she added.

Late last month, after Liu’s death, police in Datong, Shanxi province, where he was born and his birth parents live, said they had interrogated both for their role in selling Liu, but has made no announcement about their investigation since.

The statute of limitations in child trafficking cases is normally 10 years, according to Chinese law.

The education bureau of Nangong, where Liu grew up, told the South China Morning Post that it was still investigating the school bullying and sexual abuse Liu mentioned in his last note on social media.

The teenager received public support and sympathy when he started searching for his birth parents online, but some web users started attacking him after his row with his birth parents became a heated public topic later in January.

A lengthy note was left on Liu’s Weibo account before he died, accusing his birth parents and a person in the village of his adoptive family of human trafficking, and many web users of bullying him online.

In the note, he also claimed he was sexually abused by a middle school teacher and bullied by schoolmates because of his being adopted and an orphan. Both his adoptive parents died in 2009 in an accident.


  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.