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Suicide top cause of death for under 40s

Suicide was the main cause of death for Koreans aged 40 or younger in the past year, followed by accidents and cancer, Statistics Korea said Thursday.

The government agency report said the country’s suicide rate was the highest among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Suicide was responsible for 31.2 deaths per 100,000 people for all age groups, compared with the OECD average rate of 11.3.

Among teenagers, 5.2 in every 100,000 people committed suicide last year. The rates for those in their 20s and 30s were 24.4 and 29.6, respectively.

“The number of deaths from suicide has been increasing. A total of 15,566 killed themselves over the past year, up 1 percent from 2010,” the report said. The increase has been noticed since early 1990s, with the rate peaking in 1998 at the height of the Asian financial crisis.

The top three causes of death for the overall population were cancer, brain disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

By Cynthia J. Kim (