So, first of all, I want to begin this article with a trigger warning. As the title indicates, there are discussions of suicide and self-harm in this article. However, this article mainly focuses on methods being used in South Korea to try and decrease the suicide rate.
I assume many people have heard that South Korea has a quite high suicide rating. For decades it has been in the top five countries globally, and it is one of the leading causes of death among youth. Unfortunately, these figures, despite the various measures taken, remain high. Out of desperation, many are willing to try unorthodox methods to bring this figure down. In this article, I would like to tell you about non-standard methods to prevent suicide among Koreans.
Suicide Statistics in Korea
Korea is a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which also includes 37 other states. According to the latest statistics, Korea ranks first in the number of committed suicides among OECD member countries. And in 2022, it ranks the fourth highest among all countries. Of course, there have been improvements. According to the data, the number decreased in 2021 compared to 2020. 25.7 people committed suicide per 100,000, down by 1.7. In many ways, it was achieved by reducing the number of suicides among adults. (Korean Herald)
However, already in 2022, some published materials indicate an increase in deaths among young people under the age of 30. 2021 many have been a temporary dip.
The suicide rate is especially high among women. The Korean Government is taking measures because this problem is becoming more serious, especially if we also take into account the fact that it is aggravated by the aging of the population and the decline in the birth rate. Below are non-standard measures to try and curb the struggle.
How Artificial Intelligence Helps to Prevent Suicide in Korea
Automation occurs even in something such as saving human life. In Korea, one of the most common places where people end their lives is on bridges. In South Korea, CCTVs are installed in almost all public places, including bridges.
There is a team of people who monitor what is happening on the bridges. Naturally, it is difficult for a person to track all the cameras. But since 2021, AI was introduced to track the behavior of people on bridges throughout Korea. The system reacts if, for example, a person stands in the same place and looks down for a long time. The rescue team receives the signal and is dispatched to the scene to help the individual. This technology is installed on 28 bridges. Experts talk about the effectiveness of AI because with the help of a timely response, the chance of saving a person increases. (Korea Times)
Mapo, Bridge of Life
Again, about bridges. In 2012, various encouraging inscriptions were written on the Mapo Bridge. For example, “Did you eat?”, “You are a good person”, “You must be very tired” and so on. Sensors were also added that illuminate at night. Unfortunately, this measure did not lead to a significant improvement in statistical data.
In 2019, it was decided to remove the inscriptions, as their effectiveness was not confirmed. And some debated that it may actually lead to a worsened mental condition. Instead, the authorities made the fences on the bridges even higher so that it would be more difficult for people to jump over them. (Korea Times)
Fake funerals in South Korea
Hyowon Healing Center was founded in 2012, its creator said that a fake funeral ceremony helps people realize the value of human life. In my opinion, this method is the most non-conventional and has a very strong influence on a person’s mindset. Participants go through the entire burial ceremony. At the same time, the role of the participant is that of the corpse.
“A person is given the last photo, which will be at the funeral, he writes a will and letters to all his relatives and friends. Next, everyone puts on funeral clothes, and then lies down in the coffin, which closes for 10 minutes.” (Korea Times) Many participants said that they had changed their attitude toward death, revised their views, and felt relieved.
This practice spread and began to be carried out in other places, including in some Buddhist organizations.
As we can see, in Korea there are various ways to overcome the high death rate due to suicide. Both non-standard methods are used, for example, fake funerals, and modern technologies such as AI. It is very important to understand own emotional state. If you feel that you have problems that you cannot cope with, do not be silent, but talk to other people, or seek specialized psychological support if you feel that you need it.