The number of teenagers who attempted suicide doubled over the four years before the coronavirus pandemic. Medical researchers analyzed data from the National Emergency Department Information System (NEDIS) and found that the number of 14 to 19-year-olds who were rushed to emergency rooms after attempting suicide surged 2.1 times from 1,894 in 2016 to 3,892 in 2019.The figure out of 100,000 teenagers increased 35.6 percent a year from 57.5 in 2016 to 135.5 in 2019.
The rate of increase was steeper for girls (46.3 percent) than boys (18 percent) and among middle-school students (51.1 percent) than high schoolers (27 percent).Out of all 11,462 teenagers who attempted suicide over the period, 3,006 were kept in hospital, while the rest were sent back home. Some 38.2 percent of them insisted on going home and refused medical treatment or monitoring. The number who insisted on going home increased from 447 in 2016 to 1,219 in 2019.Lee Hae-kuk, a psychiatrist at Catholic University of Korea, said, "Increasing use of social media not only exposes teens to material glorifying self-harm but makes many of them feel depressed and deprived when they compare themselves to their peers. To reduce self-harm and suicide among teens, afterschool programs are needed that support healthy social activities."