Friday, October 14, 2016
What frightens us the most? A medical school professor, writing in the View from the Ark of the Catholic Times answers: death. A fact common across all of the categories of biological life. There are millions of different species active in the competition for life. However, the human species is the only one that finds life at times more frightening than death. Pain, both physical and mental, makes life no longer worth living and we have suicides.
Korea leads the world in the number of suicides. The government is concerned and is working on possible solutions. The National Bioethics Committee has published a constitution on the dignity of life. Why is Korea the world leader in the number of suicides?
Many scholars mention the challenges that come with economics bringing great stress to many. Whenever we have problems with foreign exchange, credit card problems, and world economic uncertainty we see a rise in the number of suicides around the world: not unique to Korea. However, in the past when the foreign exchange problems subsided we saw a decrease of 30% in the number of suicides in other countries but in Korea, they continued to rise, especially among the elderly and the young.
The pain that comes with economics is a factor. However, there are many other nations that have had to deal with the problems that Korea has experienced. Korea has had many difficulties to overcome in its past and has done an admirable job of surviving. Why is Korea so prone to giving up on life?
Victor Frankl a psychiatrist who while in the concentration camp learned a great deal about life. After freedom, in his books, he stresses that his incarceration enabled him to see life more in depth and finding meaning in life allows one to overcome all difficulties.
With the economic growth in the country, we have become colder and hardhearted, lost our leisure and fail to see the weak in society. A Korean psychiatrist saw the problem originating with the 36 years under Japanese rule which gave birth to a mass neurosis. Koreans lost their collective self-esteem: (instead of finding their worth in themselves they search for it outside of themselves). This was the results of the trauma of colonialism. Consequently, a person's own standards are not important, appearances are everything. It is better to die than live with embarrassment.
We search for superlatives, fame, and ostentation; failing to see those who are alienated in society and at the same time see ourselves as good-for-nothing and not able to accept ourselves as we are. This is another division we have in ourselves and the pain that comes with it, we pass off to our children and others.
The professor finishes the article with the hope that we will come to an understanding of ourselves and overcome the shame of being the suicide leader of the world.