Korea has OECD’s top suicide rate

Lee Eun-Ju sings Only When I Sleep
Lee Eun-ju

Korea’s National Statistics Office recent report was picked up by Yonhap and the Chosun.

“The high suicide rate in South Korea seems to reflect a surge in social conflicts, including feuds between the sexes, economic hardship and domestic violence,” an NSO official said

according to Yonhap. The Chosun article focuses on the “prolonged economic slump and loss of jobs” as the cause. If any sociologist has picked up on the story, I’d be interested in hearing how feuds between the sexes have contributed to the suicide rate.

The Chosun does the simple maths, and comes up with a pretty impactful statistic: in 2005 on average, every day 33 people took their own lives. One of those 33 on 22 February 2005 was sadly the actress Lee Eun-ju. CNN reported a few years ago on a Korean suicide web site. Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death in Korea, after cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

These statistics of course relate to the South. But the Chosun also recently reported the sad news of the apparent suicide in Paris of Kim Jong-il’s niece.

Update 5 Dec 2006: The Chosun discusses some of the reasons for Korea’s high suicide rate: One in 10 Koreans Mull Suicide for Economic Reasons

Update 23 April 2007: Korea is still at the top of the table, according to the Chosun


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