More than 100 Korean elementary, middle, and high school students ended their lives last year, marking the second consecutive rise in the teen suicide rate in the country, a industry group said Thursday.
The Life Insurance Social Philanthropy Foundation published data accrued over the past three months as part of its campaign that aims to listen to teenagers and ultimately lower the suicide rate in the country.
“There is a greater need for the older generation to listen to the voices of these teens without disregarding their worries or regarding them as a mere rebellious stage considering the strong impulse of teen suicides,” said Lee Jong-suh, CEO of the Life Insurance Social Philanthropy Foundation.
|The Life Insurance Social Philanthropy Foundation announced the opening of its “We Will Listen” campaign for struggling teens through an interactive online site that features five character dogs.|
The Korean government recently pushed for policies that aimed to less the suicide rate by 2022, considering that the country has the second highest suicide rate among OECD countries. According to OECD statistics, nearly 26 out of 100,000 Koreans committed suicide in 2016, which was two times higher than the OECD average. The new measures aim to bring the number down to 17 deaths per 100,000 by 2022.
On Thursday, the foundation said that it launched a campaign through its consultation site (www.lifedogs.or.kr) where teenagers can post their problems and get supportive responses from five character dogs online. The site also links those who need emergency or in-depth consultations to suicide or mental health hotlines.
Data compiled from the site over a period of three years showed that nearly half of those who posted onto the site were worried about their grades and future career, around 20 percent about interpersonal relationships or school violence and 10 percent about family troubles.
Around 25 percent of teens said they felt depressed without a clear reason and one-fifth of them experienced moderate-to-severe symptoms. Notably, around 40 out of 260 posts contained the words or phrases “suicide,” “self-harm,” and “running away from home.” The number of postings related to one’s career also increased greatly in the second week of January, which coincided with the week of college applications in Korea.
Consultants have aimed primarily to listen to the user’s problems instead of offering a “correct” solution to provide mental relief for teens, according to Park Sun-jeong, a consultant who participated in the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Life Insurance Social Philanthropy Foundation was created through an industry-joint agreement that includes 20 life insurance firms such as Samsung Life Insurance, Kyobo Life Insurance, and Hanhwa Life Insurance and works towards providing help to those who have weak social and financial support, it said.
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