The Korea Herald


Suicide prevention education mandated

By Park Jun-hee

Published : July 9, 2024 - 14:28

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Starting on Friday, suicide prevention education in schools, workplaces, public institutions and hospitals will be made mandatory once a year as part of the country's efforts to tackle the devastating suicide rates and increase help-seeking behaviors for those struggling, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.

The strengthened suicide awareness and prevention training comes after the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a partial amendment to the Act on the Prevention of Suicide and the Creation of Culture of Respect for Life, also known as the Suicide Prevention Act.

Previously, the heads of related central administrative agencies, mayors and governors had to establish a suicide prevention plan and submit it to the Health Minister by December 31 each year to promote education within their respective jurisdictions.

However, under the enforcement decree, the heads of national and local government, public institutions, elementary, middle and high schools, social welfare institutes and hospital-level medical institutions will be required to deliver educational programs to prevent and reduce instances of suicide through awareness and support initiatives, the ministry explained.

Upon receiving the education, the chiefs of such institutions will have to submit the outcomes and details of the education program to the Health Minister or head of the relevant supervising ministry by January 31 of the following year so that the ministry can assess the effectiveness of suicide prevention efforts within institutions.

Companies with 30 or more permanent employees and alternative schools are only advised to conduct such education.

The programs for suicide prevention education come in two versions.

"Awareness improvement education" will delve into understanding and valuing life. It teaches the importance of life, promotes self-care and self-understanding and provides thorough guidance on how to seek help when needed, according to the ministry. The education to improve awareness is recommended for students and corporate workers.

The suicide prevention drive focusing on protecting lives will cover topics on the problems of suicide, warning signs and how to respond to suicidal thoughts. Named the "life protector education on suicide," the program is recommended for those working in social welfare facilities or service-oriented fields.

The courses can be taken via the internet, audiovisual education or group training sessions.

Lee Hyung-hoon, the director general for the ministry's mental health policy, expressed hopes that the scheme would create a healthy society.

"Effectively educating people on how to seek help when they are at a risk of suicide and how to help people at risk could contribute to reducing suicide rates," Lee said in a press release.

If you're thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare's helpline at 109, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please request a translator for English-language services.