[EDITORIALS]Rising suicides a bad signOver 11,000 people committed suicide in Korea last year. This means that 24 people out of every 100,000 Koreans committed suicide. This is the highest suicide rate recorded since the National Statistical Office began its survey on causes of death.
With 18.7 suicides per 100,000 in 2002, Korea was already the fourth, following Hungary, Japan and Finland, among the 30 members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in the number of suicides.
A high suicide rate means that there is something wrong with the well-being of a society. Korea is a nation heavily influenced by Confucian tradition, which forbids a person from hurting his body, obtained from his parents, in any way. But the recent rise in the suicide rate shows that our society has become seriously ill.
In the past, loneliness and lack of confidence led a person to commit suicide. When industrialization started in Korea, most people committed suicide because of the disintegration of families in the course of industrialization and economic hardship.
Recently, more and more politicians are committing suicide, out of regret that their reputations were disgraced following the exposure of their involvement in corruption.
Some Internet sites were also found to be encouraging suicides. These sites mislead young peope who do not know the dignity and value of human life to choose the wrong path.
Suicide among Koreans in their 20s and 30s is particularly worrisome. Experts say that the reason is the stagnant economy. Being unemployed while you are young enough to work or being heavily in debt are no longer personal problems. They have become the responsibility of our society.
We cannot let the suicide rate continue to rise. We should be aware that the increase in the suicide rate is a dangerous sign. We need to pay close attention to our neighbors first to see if there are people in desperate need or people neglected by the community. The government’s duty doesn’t stop at releasing the survey results. It must evaluate the causes of suicide and come up with a realistic measure to prevent it.
The Web sites encouraging suicide should be immediately shut down. Suicide is contagious, so media should be careful in reporting such stories. The press should not give elaborate reports on suicide. Schools should educate students that life is precious.