Tough Job Market Drives More Young Koreans to Suicide

      August 17, 2011 07:23

      Korea officially has the highest suicide rate among all 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, putting it even higher than Japan.

      The suicide rate last year stood at 28.7 per every 100,000 people, which was 1.5 times higher than Japan and 10 times above Greece, which boasts the lowest rate in the OECD.

      Suicide is now the top cause of death among Koreans in their 20s. The Korean Association for Suicide Prevention said, "The pressure to find gainful employment is one of the main causes of suicide among those in their 20s."

      At least 10 of the suicide cases that have been reported so far this year are believed to be linked to a failure to find jobs. A study by an Internet job search portal conducted in April showed that six out of 10 respondents felt tempted to take their own lives due to the increased difficult and related stress of finding work in Korea's overheated job market, which is causing employers to pare down their new hires.

      Among the respondents, 30.9 percent said they contemplated suicide because of a fear that they may never find work, while 26.2 percent said they felt socially isolated and helpless. Another 20.1 percent complained about others viewing them as being incompetent due to their unemployed status.

      "A lot of graduating university students begin looking for work without knowing what they really want to do, and they seem to feel even more stress when looking for jobs," said Lee Sook-young, a local job search consultant.

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