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Calls for action to tackle Korea’s suicide rate

As Korea continues its battle against rising suicide rates, organizations and civic groups planned a wide range of activities and events for Monday to mark World Suicide Prevention Day here.

While suicide rates have decreased in many developed nations since 1995, the rate has increased rapidly in Korea.

In 2010 alone, more than 15,500 people in Korea committed suicide. This amounts to about 28.4 deaths by suicide for every 100,000 people, or 42 deaths every day ― the highest rate among the OECD countries, followed by an average of 19.8 people in Hungary and 19.7 in Japan, according to recent OECD data. 
Participants walk in front of a panel written on with words of consolation during an event held at the Gyeonggi Provincial Government office to promote suicide prevention on Friday. (Yonhap News)
Participants walk in front of a panel written on with words of consolation during an event held at the Gyeonggi Provincial Government office to promote suicide prevention on Friday. (Yonhap News)

Campaigners note that suicide is often linked with depression, and early detection by families and health professionals is key to preventing people from taking their own lives.

“It’s time to recognize that suicide is not a personal matter, but a social problem,” said an official from the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention, calling on the government to introduce measures to tackle the rising suicide rate.

Park Jong-ik, head of the Korea Suicide Prevention Center, said that the Korean government’s annual spending of 2 billion won ($1.7 million) on suicide prevention is relatively low, compared to that of Japan’s roughly $250 million.

Park told Yonhap News agency that “the government should prioritize it among other polices, and not only inject the money but introduce all necessary measures to reduce the suicide rate.”

World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on Sept. 10 every year, is co-organized by the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention to promote worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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