The elderly and those living in one of the least affluent districts in Seoul were at the highest risk of taking their own lives, government data showed Sunday.
According to Statistics Korea, the suicide rate in Seoul stood at 24.7, meaning 24.7 Seoul residents in 100,000 committed suicide last year, as the nation’s average suicide rate was 27.
By age group, Seoul citizens aged 60 or over had the highest suicide rates, with 50.3 seniors taking their own lives last year alone. The suicide rate for those aged 45 to 64 was the second highest at 31.9, followed by those aged 25 to 44 at 27.9 and those aged 15 to 24 at 10.4.
Poverty among the elderly has been blamed for the growing rate of senior citizen suicide here. According to the Korea Labor Institute, 48.6 percent of the country’s elderly were living in poverty in 2014, defined as living off of 50 percent or less of median household income.
Experts have also pointed out that the elderly who commit suicide mainly fall into two groups: those who do not want to burden their children with financial issues and those who grow estranged from their families as they get older.
By district in Seoul, those living in Jungnang District, one of the poorest districts in Seoul by household income, saw the highest suicide rate at 35.7, while residents in Seocho District, one of the richest districts in Seoul, saw only 15.3 people in 100,000 having killed themselves last year.
According to Seoul Metropolitan Government, Gangnam District was the richest among 25 districts in Seoul, collecting 104 billion won ($89.9 million) in income taxes, while Jungnang District raked in only 3.6 billion won.
Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicate that Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among its 34 member countries, with 29.1 Koreans per 100,000 people taking their own lives, compared to the OECD average of 12.1.
By Ock Hyun-ju