Suicides in Seoul dip for first time in 6 years

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Suicides in Seoul dip for first time in 6 years

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Seoul’s suicide rate last year declined for the first time since 2006 and was the lowest among other Korean cities, according to data compiled by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Last year’s rate was 23.8 suicide deaths per 100,000, down 11.5 percent compared with 26.9 deaths for every 100,000 in 2011.

Seocho District, a wealthy neighborhood in southern Seoul, had the lowest rate while Geumcheon District, a relatively marginalized region with lower average income than in the southern Seoul area, had the highest.

Suicides in Seoul dropped for both men and women.

The suicide rate for men dropped 14.2 percent to 32.1 deaths per 100,000 last year from 37.4 in 2011. The rate for women fell 6 percent to 15.6 deaths.

The age group with the lowest rate between 2011 and 2012 was people in their 20s at 28.4 percent, followed by people in their 70s at 16 percent.

The city hailed the decline as partly the result of the city government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of suicides.

Last year, the city government erected cheerful signs along the guardrails of Mapo Bridge, nicknamed “suicide bridge.” It also installed four emergency phone boxes on the bridge that connect despondent people to a suicide hotline or the emergency 119 service.

The city set a more ambitious target to cut the number of suicides in half by 2020.

“Seoul is now trying to come up with ways to prevent suicides in neighborhoods with higher suicide rates,” said Kang Jong-pil from the welfare and safety division of the city. “We’d also like to work on campaigns to promote the value of life.”

In Korea, about 43.6 people take their lives every day, according to Statistics Korea. Nationwide, an average of 31.7 people per 100,000 ended their lives in 2011, nearly three times higher than the average of 12.9 for other member states of the OECD.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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