Thursday, May 7, 2009

Suicides in Korea

It is not always wise to take statistics at face value but it seems that the number of suicides in Korea is such that it is causing a great deal of concern in our society. A report from the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that Korea had the highest number of deaths from suicide. The recent Catholic newspaper had an editorial that said that last year we had 35 people each day that ended their lives with suicide. It mentioned that those in there twenties the cause for death from suicide leads the list.

Suicide has become an 'epidemic' disease. Just recently there was a number of suicides in Gang won Do where 11 plotted their suicides together with the help of the internet. In recent months we had some very visible members of our society who had everything, ending their lives by suicide.

The editorial went on to say that the reasons are many .The students have stress that comes with examinations. The young people who see no future for themselves become depressed. The middle aged see the struggle to make a living for the family too much and the older people with infirmities and alienation see no reason to continue.

The culture of Death is spreading throughout the world. The media is telling us that we have the right over life and can end it when we choose. Life does become unbearable for many ,should they not have the freedom to end it when they want?

Our society does a good job in giving our young people very high expectations but there is a dark side to this. Life is not always fair and we do not always get what we want but that does not mean that life is not beautiful and a gift. One of our older priests was quoted as saying: show me a person who has high expectations and I will fall asleep at his side. Another came back with: "Keep your expectations low and be an overachiever." There was a tongue in cheek with this but something is being said which is not all that bizarre.

We know that God can write straight with crooked lines and we should not forget the wisdom of the ages both in the East and West. 새옹지마 (an evil may sometimes turn out to be a blessing in disguise) 전화위복 (misfortune turns into a blessing) and in our Easter Liturgy we have Felix Culpa (happy fault).

For those of us in pastoral care we have known for some time now that most of the cases of suicide has little to do with sin and a great deal to do with sickness. We have no difficulty in giving those who are Catholic a Church Funeral but we have to make an effort to change the way we educate our children. Life is much more than what we do or what we have. It is all about who we are. Our very being is what is precious. The preciousness of life is always there no matter what we do or fail to do.


  1. Father, do you know of any Korean Catholic counseling services for people who have attempted suicide?

  2. I am not familiar with any Catholic counseling services that deal deal directly with those who have attempted suicide. In our diocese if we are faced with a problem in the parish that we are not capable of handling we can refer the individuals to the family counseling center. They will refer those who come for help to other counseling groups if they are not prepared to deal with the problem. I believe that most diocesan centers have such counseling