South Korea’s infamously high suicide rate is taking a toll on the youth, with more than 100 of them taking their own lives every year.
A total of 139 primary and secondary students committed suicide last year, according to education office data released by Rep. An Min-suk of the Democratic Party.
High school students accounted for the greatest number of youth suicides, at 88 deaths.
|Members of a parents’ association hold a rally against youth suicide and school violence in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, last December. (Yonhap News)|
The figure has, however, been on the decline since 2009 ― the number of student suicides stood at 150 in 2011 and 202 in 2009. But it is still higher than other industrialized nations, according to the report.
Family trouble was the most dominant identified cause of suicide for about 40 percent, or 56, of 139 students, followed by depression and study pressure for 16.5 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively. Relationship problems were the apparent reason for the deaths of 10 percent or 14 students.
“This (data) shows that family is the main cause that pushes our children over the edge. It‘s urgent to come up with a measure that can encourage our children to reveal their problems,” An said in his report.
According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Korea’s youth suicide rate jumped from 6.4 to 9.4 per every 100,000 people in the past 10 years, the highest among the OECD members.
Some point to society becoming less communicative, leading people to become more ignorant of others’ lives, as an instigator of the increasing suicide rate.
Park Bum-yi, chairwoman of the civic group the National Association of Parents for True Education, said students from lower income backgrounds and broken families, in particular, tend to have low self-esteem.
“For those children, schools may be the only place to stop them from suicidal thoughts. But our schools neglect to increase their self-esteem and fierce competition with peers drive them to risk their own lives,” she said.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com