Korea's suicide rate is the highest in the OECD for the eighth year running. According to Statistics Korea on Sunday, 15,566 people killed themselves here in 2010, up over 50 percent from 2006.
This translates into 31.2 suicides per 100,000 people, or 42.6 per day. That is 2.4 times greater than the OECD average of 12.8 suicides per 100,000.
Hungary, Japan, and Slovenia followed with 23.3, 21.2, and 18.6 suicides per 100,000 people, but the margin between Korea and the runner-up is huge. Worse, the average suicide rate in the OECD member states is declining but Korea's is rising, especially among the elderly.
The suicide rate among people over 65 is 72 for every 100,000, more than twice the national average. Many factors are cited such as deteriorating health, loneliness and depression, but poverty is the main reason.
Poverty among the elderly is 48.5 percent, 3.4 percent higher than the OECD average.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has been trying to reduce the suicide rate, by means such as help for those who have made suicide attempts and poor elderly people living alone, but it has not been enough.