Korea is working hard to remove itself from the list of countries with the highest rate of suicides. Both Catholic papers gave space to the issue, noting especially the number of elderly who are committing suicide.
The Seoul Diocese conducted a symposium on
methods to decrease the number of suicides in society. According to the
government office of statistics for every one hundred thousand
citizens from the ages of 60 to 69 there are 42.4 persons who kill
themselves. From 70 to 79 there are 73.1 persons and those over 80
there are 104.5 who commit suicide. Over 80 those who commit
suicide number 4 times the average.
Health and Human Services in a 2013 survey showed the largest group
attempting suicide: 65.5 percent were the non-religious, Protestants
16.0 percent, Buddhists 9.4 percent, and Catholics 3.5 percent.
professor at the Catholic University in the keynote speech said that
those who had strong values and found meaning in life, and those that had
a strong faith life had the lowest suicide rate. To lower the rate he
stressed the need to increase the faith life of the elderly.
Catholic Church and the Nowon District (a residential district of
Seoul, South Korea, Located in the northeastern part of the metropolitan
city) have worked together to decrease the number of suicides in the
district with good results: in 2009, 180 deaths from suicide, and in
2013 it decreased to 150.
Civilian groups within the
district have increased their cooperation, drawn up programs for the
different age groups within the district, made efforts to find those who
were at greater risk and work more closely with this group. A
need was shown by the volunteer groups to have input by specialist in the field.
The editorial in the Catholic Times
mentioned that 11.2 percent of those over 60 have thought of suicide.
Chief reasons were health and financial difficulties. With society getting older, those in the country have more difficulty than those in the city: more alienation, struggles and loneliness.
We can't just see the suicide as an individual problem.
In conclusion was the need for the church to get more involved in their work with the
elderly, form groups that are in sympathy with their goals, efforts to establish a social safety net, and extend the culture of life movement.