Korea has been for many years now the number one country in the OECD list of suicides. The Covid 19 has not helped the situation. In a recent article in the Catholic Times, we hear surprisingly that seven out of 10 suicides in Korea were found to be male.
Critics point out that social and cultural remedies for the issue of male suicide need to be prepared, as well as pastoral efforts within the church.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare recently published a "five-year national suicide death analysis result report" with the Korea Life Respect Hope Foundation, which analyzed the demographic characteristics, major causes, and frequent areas of suicide deaths from 2013 to 2017.
The report, which was created by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in cooperation with the National Police Agency thoroughly investigated 64,124 suicide deaths, nationwide over five years and contains the characteristics and related factors of the suicide deaths.
Suicide accounted for 28.1% of those 30 to 40, 27.7% of the middle-aged, and the rest were similar at 27.0%. It was followed by 15.7% in youth and 1.5% in childhood. However, the number of suicides per 100,000 population was the highest at 51.4 in old age.
In particular, the average number of male suicide deaths per five years was 9,029, about 2.4 times higher than that of 3,796 female suicide deaths. In all cities and provinces, the number of male suicide deaths was two to three times higher than that of female suicide deaths.
Experts cited the characteristics of men who do not want to complain of difficulties to others, the social and cultural climate that demands masculinity, and the choice of suicide means with high fatality rates as reasons for the high number of male suicide deaths.
A professor of psychiatry at Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, said, "A large number of male suicide deaths is inversely proportional to a large number of female depression patients. Women often seek help before attempting suicide, but men often rely on alcohol instead." He then explained, "The success rate of suicide increases because impulsiveness increases when drinking alcohol." In addition, he said, "Men often use suicide methods with a high fatality rate, such as jumping from heights, but women tend to cut their wrists or take medicine, so the suicide mortality rate of men is high."
The government's report shows that men are more vulnerable socially and culturally than women and are not receiving proper help. It is pointed out that in order to reduce the number of male suicide deaths, measures should be taken to suit the characteristics of male suicides. Experts said that men after retirement are often no longer active socially and stress tends to increase rapidly.
The professor said, "When men enter middle-age they develop a lot of physical diseases along with economic difficulties, and these two increase the risk of suicide," and suggested, "We need to introduce a plan to provide mental health counseling." Men tend to think of suicide due to economic problems, said the head of the Korea Life Respect Hope Foundation. "If they find someone with signs of suicide during interviews with banks and other financial sectors, it is also a good idea to connect to a professional counseling center." In fact, the Korea Life Respect Hope Foundation has a system that connects people with signs of suicide during financial consultations with certain Banks and the Credit Counseling and Recovery Services.
It is pointed out that the church needs to be concerned with the serious male suicide problem. An official from the church said: "Women reduce stress through various activities within the church and in society, but men who have lost their jobs or are experiencing financial difficulties are more likely to stay away from others."We need to make efforts to reduce male suicide through active discovery, and efforts to help them.