Suicide in South Korea
South Korea is behind Greenland with the third highest suicide rate globally, first among the 30 OECD countries, with the toll of suicide deaths more than doubling in the last decade. Suicide is the most common cause of death for those under 40 in South Korea.
The toll of suicide deaths in South Korea has more than doubled in the last decade. Park and Lester note that suicide rate in South Korea rose from 6.8 per 100,000 people in 1982 to 28.4 in 2011.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for those under 40 in South Korea. However, it is a problem much more prevalent in the older population. In 2003 the suicide rate for people aged 60–74 was about 4.4 higher than for the 15-29 age group, and the suicide rate for those over 75 was over 10.6 as big. More than two thirds of the suicides are committed by males (in 2003, the ratio was about 2:1).
Suicides of famous people
Suicide in South Korea has gained attention as a national problem after the deaths of several well-known people, including the former President Roh Moo-hyun, the millionaire Samsung heiress Lee Yoon-hyung, South Korean professional baseball player Cho Sung-min, sportscaster Song Ji-sun, the Korean pop singers U;Nee, Lee Hye-rin, Chae Dong Ha and Seo Ji Won, professional footballers Yoon Ki-Won and Chung Jong-kwan, supermodel Daul Kim, and the actors Ahn Jae-hwan, Jeong Da-bin, Lee Eun-ju, Jang Ja-yeon, Choi Jin-shil (Cho Sung-min's ex-wife), Choi Jin-yeong (Choi Jin-shil's younger brother), Kim Ji-hoo, Woo Seung-yeon, Han Chae-won, Jang Chae-won, Park Hye Sang, Park Yong-ha, Jung Ayul and Kim Jong-hak.
Of the 29,501 suicides in South Korea between 2009 and 2010, the causes were: psychological despair 28.8% (8,489 cases), physical pain 22.6% (6,672), economic difficulties 15.9% (4,690), and family problems 11.4% (3,363). In cases of youth suicide, the most common cause is pressure related to the College Scholastic Ability Test.
An NGO, Korean Association for Suicide Prevention (KASP) was created in December 2003, and since 2005, it has received support from the government.
Analyzing the suicides up to 2003, Park and Lester note that unemployment was a major factor, and that "cultural tradition of filial obligation is not congruent with the increasingly competitive, specialized labor market of the modern era." In South Korea, it has been the traditional duty of children to take care of their parents. In the modern economy it is more difficult, so the elderly are sacrificing themselves by committing suicide so to lessen the burden on the children.
The Government of South Korea has appointed a task force of 100 people to check the internet in South Korea, including blogs and social media sites, for any material that helps or encourages suicide.
Park and Lester note that in South Korea there is a cultural belief that suicide is an individual problem, which makes it difficult to secure funding for state medical, welfare and educational programs aiming to reduce the suicide rate.
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