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Korea struggles to lower suicides
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Updated : 2016.12.24  17:52:54
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  man on Mapo Bridge looks at a suicide prevention statue in Seoul, Friday. Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day./ Yonhap

  By Kim Se-jeong

  South Korea has made little progress in changing its image as a nation having one of the world’s worst suicide rates as World Suicide Prevention Day approaches. On Thursday, Ha Il-sung, a popular baseball commentator and former secretary general of the Korea Baseball Organization, was found dead. He had been charged with receiving 1) bribes. Four days earlier, four strangers, men and women, were found dead in an Ansan room in what appeared to be a suicide from 2) asphyxiation. In late August, Lee In-won, Lotte Group’s vice chairman, hung himself before he could be questioned by the 3) prosecution. According to statistics, 27.3 out of 100,000 killed themselves on average. In 2014, 13,836 took their own lives — 38 a day. That made Korea the No.1 country among 34 OECD member countries when it comes to the suicide rate. Korea has kept that rank since 2003. The statistics show that those who kill themselves are mostly male and old. Almost 30 percent of them had mental health problems, which was followed by 21.2 percent with financial difficulties and 18.9 percent with physical disease. Strong competition and lack of social support systems are blamed for the high suicide rate in Korea. The country’s fast economic success was supported by a culture of strong competition, but the country has failed to meet the need for support systems for those who become 4) suicidal. The central government has taken the issue seriously and enacted the suicide prevention law in 2011. It also opened the Korea Suicide Prevention Center, and started monitoring people at risk and counseling those who lost family members to suicide. 5) Provincial governments came up with their own programs — the most recent one is from the Seoul Metropolitan Government which promised to make rails on Mapo Bridge, one of the most frequent suicide spot, one meter higher by December. Are these policies working? Opinions differ. The central government claims their efforts are making progress, citing that the suicide rate dropped from 31.2 per 100,000 in 2010 to 27.3 in 2014. Ha Sang-hun from Lifeline Korea, a private organization running SOS phones on bridges, doesn’t agree. “There’s no evidence that correlates the falling rate of suicide to public 6) initiatives. ”For the last four years, Lifeline Korea received almost 4,500 emergency calls from the bridge. Among them, 650 cases ended up with ambulances 7) dispatched to the site. Han claimed that when it comes to suicide prevention, most of the work is done by society. “The efforts of the central government lack 8) consistency,” he said. The Health Ministry is doing its own thing. So are the Education Ministry, Gender Minister and the policy agency. And what each does is 9) repetitive.”Ha also insisted that the central government should 10) allocate more money and human resources for prevention. Last year, the health ministry spent 8.5 billion won, which is “enough only to pay bills and staff at the suicide prevention center,” according to Ha. “Almost 14,000 die every year. Only two people at the health ministry are handling suicide prevention. Something is really wrong here.”


Published: 2016-09-09

Source: The Korea Times

<Words & Expressions>

1)bribe: n.v. 뇌물
2)asphyxiation:질식, 가사 상태
4)suicidal:a.자살 충동을 느끼는, 죽고 싶어 하는 cf) suicide:자살
5)Provincial:a.지방의, 도(道)의 cf)province: 주,도
6)initiatives: (특정한 문제 해결・목적 달성을 위한 새로운) 계획 cf)initiate 개시,착수하다
7)dispatched: 파견, 발송,출동cf) Succor was sent(=dispatched).원병을 파견했다.
8)consistency:일관성, 한결같음

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