"We were born without a reason and we need to keep living without a reason" are words used by some to console in our modern society. Sad is the way the loss of belief in God is not seen as a reason for the agony of many and the loss of meaning in life.
In the Catholic Peace Weekly, the recent editorial comments on the need to have concern for the hardships of life and the despair that so many have to endure. This shows in the number of those taking their own lives and the lives of family members.
Suicide remains the number one cause of death among young people in South Korea. Overall Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. Despite the efforts of the government to tackle the problem, the suicide rate among the elderly is high. The amount of poverty among the elderly is a prominent reason for despair.
One of the sad aspects of this situation is the tragedy of parents committing suicide after killing their children. The editorial reacts to the recent example of a family of three found dead in their apartment. Since September of last year, there have been 10 similar cases reported in the press. Outwardly everything in society seems to be going well but internally there are many wounded and crying for help and not heard.
Reports by the police and experts show two major reasons for parents to make these extreme decisions. One is emotional problems such as family discord and depression, divorce and separation; the other is the sudden change in economic conditions due to poverty, debt or business failure.
In particular, the economic situation worsened in the middle class and the lower levels of the higher class where there are no state or local government support. Attention needs to be paid to the lower-level members of the higher class, considered to be about 940,000 people. They are now in the welfare blind spots, they need to be found and helped.
Nevertheless, we should not consider suicide and the killing of children as inevitable because of economic problems. The 15 children who have died since September never chose to commit suicide. They are victims of crimes, murder by mothers and fathers with an unhealthy understanding of family relationships.
The church must be more active in preventing these kinds of tragedies. Good use of the parish structure, which is divided into villages and districts, can help find neighbors in trouble and avoid these extreme choices.
WHO estimates that about 1 million people die each year from suicide. It is difficult to understand what drives a person to take their own life but the pain is so great that they see no other way. They are looking for other ways to relieve their pain but they can't find it. Society doesn't make it easy for those with pain to find the extra strength to overcome their problems and search for answers in the community in which they live. Our individualistic lifestyle makes this difficult but not impossible; we need to be messengers of meaning to those who have lost it.