September 20, 2011 11:39
On average, 42 people from all walks of life commit suicide in Korea every day, handing the country the highest suicide rate among OECD members.
In the last five years, 485 people have chosen to end their lives by jumping into the Han River -- meaning a rate of one suicide every three days along the waterway that bisects the city.
With suicide prevention a top priority, some organizations have resorted to desperate measures to seek out those who feel they have nowhere left to turn.
One group has installed special phones at popular suicide spots like Hannam Bridge, giving those who are contemplating ending their lives one last chance to talk to counselors. Witnesses are also encouraged to use the phones to try and coax those who are feeling suicidal into opening up about their problems.
But preventative measures are even more urgently needed in agricultural areas as these have higher suicide rates than towns and cities. Monitors are periodically dispatched to remote areas to speak with villagers there and discuss their problems.
Most suicides on farms involve drinking pesticides due to the ease with which they can be found and consumed. As Gyeonggi Province has the highest suicide rate in the country, authorities decided to install pesticide safety cabinets in 6,700 homes there. Monitors come twice a month to check the state of the cabinets, which also provide the number of a suicide prevention hotline.
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