Suicide leading cause of youth deaths in South Korea

Suicide remains the No. 1 cause of death among young people in South Korea in 2009, a report showed today, indicating they are under heavy stress from a competitive education environment and toughened job market conditions.

Last Updated: May 03, 2011, 13:32 PM IST

Seoul: Suicide remains the No. 1 cause
of death among young people in South Korea in 2009, a report
showed today, indicating they are under heavy stress from a
competitive education environment and toughened job market
conditions.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, 15.3 per
cent out of every 100,000 people aged between 15 and 24 years
committed suicide in 2009, the highest ratio among all causes
of death reported for this age group. It was higher than 13.5
per cent the previous year, when suicide was also the No. 1
cause of death.

The 2009 suicide figure far exceeded deaths caused by
traffic accidents, cancer and heart disease, whose
corresponding figures stood at 8.4 per cent, 3.8 per cent and
1 per cent, respectively, the report showed.

In a survey conducted last year, 8.8 per cent of the
age group said they had thought about taking their own lives.

A majority of those surveyed cited heated competition
in school, economic difficulties and anxieties about their
future after graduation, as major reasons why they were
tempted to commit suicide, the agency said.
The data comes as a string of suicides were reported
recently at a local prestigious school, drawing fresh concerns
over the heavy stress and anxieties weighing on many of the
nation`s younger generations these days.

Since January, four students have taken their own
lives at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology (KAIST), South Korea`s top technology college. The
deaths are being blamed on the competitive education
environment in the school.

"The suicide data proved with numbers that younger
people here are under heavy stress stemming from heated
competition-driven environment at schools," an agency official
said.

Meanwhile, the ratio of younger people in the nation`s
total population has dropped significantly over the past
decades mainly due to the protracted low birthrate.

The number of younger people aged 9-24 stood at 10.14
million this year, making up 20.7 per cent of the total
population of about 49 million.

The ratio is far lower than 35.1 per cent in 1970 and
24.5 per cent in 2000. It was also lower than 21.1 per cent
reported last year, according to the report.

Despite the declining ratio of younger people,
children born to international couples have gone up over the
past few years.

The report showed that the number of students born to
such multicultural families came to 30,040 at the end of last
year, marking a five-fold rise from 6,121 reported in 2005.

The increase is due to a spike in international
marriages over the past few years. In 2005, marriages between
Koreans and foreigners came to 11,605, but it surged to 34,235
last year, the agency added.

PTI