[EDITORIALS]Help end the rash of suicidesLeading figures who are either under prosecutors’ scrutiny or imprisoned for their implication in corruption are increasingly choosing suicide. Park Tae-young, governor of South Jeolla province, under investigation into allegations of corruption while he was president of the National Health Insurance Corporation, threw himself into the Han River yesterday. Last year, Chung Mong-hun, chairman of Hyundai Asan, committed suicide. This year, Ahn Sang-young, former Busan mayor, and Nam Sang-kook, former president of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co., also took their own lives.
The dead cannot tell us why they chose this path. Their frustration must have been great as they saw their status and honor crumble when their connection to corruption became known. Perhaps there was even a feeling of mistreatment. But it is definitely undesirable to see the development of a pattern, akin to an epidemic, where leaders of our society are taking their own lives.
By the act of committing suicide, we could infer that the dead want to take responsibility. But suicides hurt those left behind ― family and friends. Suicide is a cowardly act where the person committing it is, in effect, declining to assume responsibility. Of course, social elites should not err in the first place, but they should be courageous to own up to their mistakes and start their life again. That is the dignified way; a genuine noblesse oblige.
The alarming frequency of suicides has earned the nation the ominous nickname of the “Republic of Suicides.” There are suicide Internet sites, in which people often advertise for partners in committing suicide. Human life is the most noble of virtues; suicide should never be beautified.
Society as a whole should look for ways to respond as a community to identifying what lies behind the frustration and isolation that drives its members to the brink. Desperately needed is the expansion of social safety networks that will prevent suicide by the poor, and also a national suicide prevention program. We desperately need to restore an attitude of living together and solidarity among our people. The situation where even social elites are killing themselves should not be passed over lightly.