1 out of 7 Koreans think about suicide
By Kim Rahn
One in seven people have thought about committing suicide, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Sunday.
The ministry’s report on people’s mental health in 2011, which was released a day before the 10th World Suicide Prevention Day, showed 15.6 percent of adults seriously think about killing themselves at least once in their life and 3.2 percent have attempted to do.
Korea’s suicide rate is the highest among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
A total of 15,566 people took their own lives in 2010 — an average of 42.6 people per day, according to Statistics Korea. This means 31.2 people per 100,000 killed themselves that year, the highest for eight consecutive years among OECD members.
Suicide is a serious problem among not only adults but also young people. The primary cause of death of people aged between 15 and 24 was suicide, accounting for 13 percent of the total deaths for that age group in 2010, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said.
Experts say suicide mostly is triggered by social problems rather than individual troubles as seen in students who were bullied by classmates or part-time workers sexually harassed by their employers taking their own life.
“Suicide is a matter not of individuals but people in the country, so the government should make more efforts to prevent it,” a director of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention said.
“When enduring hardship, many people habitually say, ‘I want to die.’ We need to teach children that death is not a solution for problems and that life is valuable,” she said.
The official also urged the government to set aside a bigger budget for suicide prevention efforts, saying Korea spends some 2 billion won per year, while in Japan it is about 300 billion won.
World Suicide Prevention Day was designated in 2003 by the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention to raise public awareness of the seriousness of the issue.