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Mental healthcare service needed for family survivors
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2017.08.07 15:31
  • Updated 2017.08.07 15:31
  • comments 0

Suicides result in about 80,000 bereaved family members a year, most of whom undergo severe mental suffering, a survey shows.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW)보건복지부, to establish a supporting system for family survivors, has recently conducted a basic study by asking the psychiatric division of Seoul National University Hospital 서울대병원.

According to the research, there were 13,513 suicides in 2015 and 138,505 suicides for the past 10 years. Assuming there are five to 10 bereaved family members per suicide, the nation has 80,000 or more family survivors a year and at least 700,000 of them over the past 10 years.

Also, the bereaved family members experience aggravation of family relationship and avoidance of interpersonal relations, such as conversational breakdown or mutual criticism among themselves, as well as undergo stress in job performance, including lowered work efficiency, the study said.

They suffered from various mental pains, such as depression and decline in enthusiasm (75.0 percent), insomnia (69.4 percent), anxiety (65.3 percent), anger (63.9 percent), and fall in concentration and memory (59.7 percent). Also, many people were diagnosed with depression (41.7 percent), insomnia (37.5 percent), anxiety disorder (31.9 percent), and adjustment disorder (23.6 percent).

Besides, they were experiencing physical difficulties, such as breathing problems and palpitation (59.7 percent), headache (56.9 percent), muscle pain and fatigue (52.8 percent), and indigestion and stomach pain (43.1 percent).

They thought they could get the biggest help from meetings of bereaved families (72.2 percent) followed by families and relatives (59.7 percent), suicide prevention center (59.7 percent), and mental health welfare center (55.6 percent).

Among the areas they cited as requiring the most support were changes in mental health (58 percent) followed by family relationship change (44.9 percent), and vocational and economic changes (34.8 percent).

The ministry signed a contract with Life Insurance Philanthropy Foundation (LIPF)생명보험사회공헌재단 to provide 1.4 million won ($1,240) on average, and a maximum of 3million won, per family survivor to help finance their psychological consulting and psychiatry treatment.

LIPF for its part will provide financial help for patients who attempted suicide and later agreed to get a consultation, as part of its efforts to expand the program to prevent suicide in cooperation with the ministry.

“Not only people who commit suicide but their bereaved family members are left as victims of the social problem named ‘suicide,’” said Cha Jeon-kyung 차전경, director of the ministry’s Mental Health Policy Division. “As the new administration has included suicide prevention among the task of state administration for the first time, we will make more active efforts than ever to prevent suicides.”


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