중앙데일리

Losing the suicide battle

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Apr 25,2009
Mass suicides are spreading like a vicious disease. Last month, five different groups of people tried to end their lives together in Gangwon. They are thought to have met one another through cyber clubs or blogs and shared notes or made phone calls to devise their final plans.

This year, unemployment and family issues caused by the economic crisis have probably been a major reason why some people have taken their own lives. To find out everything you need to know about ending your own life, all you need to do is spend some time searching online and eventually you will find what you want to know.

As of 2007, 24.8 out of 100,000 people in our country killed themselves, the highest rate in the Organization of Economic Corporation and Development. If we cannot solve the problem of suicide in this country, our long-term future looks grim and we will forever be labeled as a country prone to suicidal tendencies.

The police have already revealed a plan to mobilize officers specializing in cyberspace to monitor the Internet sites that offer information on suicide, but in reality it is easier said than done to check every posting on countless Internet portals where information on suicide can be delivered in secret.

Therefore, the responsibility to delete images and writing related to suicide falls on the shoulders of the portals. It seems that teenager-frequented portals have become hubs for information about suicide because they have not done enough to monitor their sites.

In addition, the media must be careful when reporting on suicide. Describing methods used to end one’s life might give information to people contemplating suicide.

When a group of people took their lives recently, they suffocated themselves by inhaling briquette fumes. The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs points out that the media widely reported a celebrity’s suicide by the same means last year.

We also need to enhance counseling and education. Experts estimate that more than 60 percent of those who attempt suicide suffer from depression. This group of people is in desperate need of help. A phone call with a counselor might be able to save a life, but 24-hour phone lines for people suffering from depression are only available in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon. The government must establish more such phone centers across the country.

Schools must employ more counselors to take care of their students’ mental health, and it is worth discussing whether to make education on suicide prevention a mandatory part of the curriculum.


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