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Suicide rates have been dramatically climbing in South Korea—making it the fourth most prevalent cause of death in the country. The number of deaths from suicides nearly doubled from 6,440 in 2000 to 12,047 in 2005. During the last few decades South Korea has been transformed into an ultra-modern country and the climbing suicide rate is partially attributed to a failure to cope with the “rigors of modern life.”
Many contemplating suicide are turning to the Internet to discuss the “ins and outs” of taking their lives.
Some users even look for partners with whom they can commit suicide, sometimes forming groups that devise detailed plans for killing themselves—selecting a date, place and method for ending their lives.
This trend, which has been growing in Japan as well, has triggered a marked response from the government in South Korea. Because most suicides are committed by ingesting poison or jumping from a building, measures are being considered to build fences and walls on some higher buildings and bridges, and to make the pesticides used for farming less potent. Also, if someone enters a search term in a web browser involving terms related to suicide, the first sites to pop up are now counseling groups and suicide hotlines.
Despite attempts to locate and close down suicide-themed websites, those who start them continue to dodge the authorities by using ambiguous website names such as “Life is Tough” and by using anonymous screen names.
Even with increased attention by the public, government and news media, the trend continues to worsen.