Suicide Rises Alarmingly Among Young People

  • By Ahn Joon-ho

    February 12, 2022 08:36

    The suicide rate among Koreans in their 20s surged an alarming 32 percent from 2016 to 2020.

    Police data show that the number of people between 21 and 30 who took their own lives rose from 1,137 in 2016 to 1,501 in 2020. The number of suicides aged 10 to 20 rose 15.6 percent to 400, and among children under 10 from zero to five.

    But the overall the suicide rate declined from 13,020 to 12,776 over the same period.

    The proportion of people below 30 among suicides increased from 11.4 percent to 14.9 percent over the period, especially among those aged 21 to 30, where it rose from 8.7 percent to 11.7 percent.

    The main cause of suicide was mental illness with 4,905 people in 2020, followed by financial problems with 3,249 and physical ailments with 2,172. 

    Police statistics do not break down the key reasons by age group, but experts point to increasing socio-economic stress as a major reason behind the increase in suicides among young people.

    A spokesperson for the Korea Foundation for Suicide Prevention said, "The surge in young people making radical decisions has complex reasons, including a growing sense of isolation due to lockdown and financial problems caused by a shrinking job market."

    "The gap between rich and poor has widened, while the opportunities for younger people to accrue wealth has narrowed. Feelings of hopelessness because it is impossible for people to afford their own house no matter how hard they work seems to have had an effect," the spokesperson added.

    People in their 20s also account for the sharpest increase among patients who received treatment for depression. According to the National Health Insurance Service, 111,731 people received treatment for depression in 2020, up 35.2 percent compared to 2016. Most or 23,479 were in their 20s, while 18,287 were in their 30s and 17,762 in their 40s.

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