[Letters] Suicide not just economicsReading the article “Suicide top cause of youth death...” [Finance, May 5] made me think. It has been a while since Korea has been ranked as one of the countries with the highest suicide rates. Whenever suicides were in the news, mostly, the cause was [despondency over] credit card debt and other financial problems. Then the issue would somehow be transformed into an economic crisis and the subject was changed to the sinking economy. The suicide report would soon be forgotten.
Is the economy really the only main reason? Is money the evil that is taking the lives of so many people? I believe the blame for Korea’s high suicide rate must go to the lack of mental and psychological treatment facilities and the social prejudice against them. Koreans have a perception that people who go to psychiatrists and psychotherapists are all mentally disturbed and abnormal. Due to this, psychiatry is not a popular field in Korea.
In the United States, if a patient is diagnosed with cancer, many hospitals carry out both cancer and psychological treatment. Patients are informed gently and thoroughly about their disease and they are offered comforting treatment by psychiatrists.
The situation in Korean hospitals is quite different. Doctors blurt out the news to patients like in a casual conversation: “You have stage 3 cancer so you must do this and this and this...” The patients don’t even have time to control their emotions.
Even though reporting cancer may be an everyday routine to doctors, it is hard for the patients to digest the news when they are in such shock. Sometimes it seems in Korea a person’s mental state and emotions are not considered important.
If we think about suicide issues more carefully, it may turn out that it isn’t actually money but emotional and mental stress that causes people to take their lives. The psychological and mental state of suicidal people robs them of the strength to face reality. They need soothing comfort or maybe just someone to talk to. That is why suicidal people seek Web sites to communicate with each other. They then end up committing suicide together.
Koreans’ indifference and lack of regard toward psychiatric and mental treatment should change. Psychological and metal illness should be considered a temporary disease like a simple cold. People should be able to receive treatment without being treated as crazy aliens. If the atmosphere does not change, than Korea may be in line to become the country with the highest suicide rate in the whole world.
Kim Da-young, Ewha Womans University
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