South Korea's suicide rate is among the highest in the world. Now the government says it's taking steps to try to reduce it with a range of measures including making organizing a suicide pact a criminal offense. The Newsroom's Jonathan Blake has this report.
The K-Pop star Jong Hyun’s death last month at 27 was one high profile example of an all too common problem. In South Korea every day, around 37 people take their own lives. The country's suicide rate is the highest of any industrialized nation - twice the worldwide average. Barriers on high rise rooftops and bridges over the River Han, which runs through Seoul, are a reminder of how prevalent suicide is. But the government says most cases could be prevented if people were more aware of the warning signs shown by those considering taking their own lives.
Among the measures announced will be examinations for depression in mandatory annual health checkups for adults over 40. Suicide pacts will be made illegal, and suicide prevention education will be required in the armed forces.
But to explain why so many people take their own lives in South Korea, some point to a lack of social security for the many elderly people who live in poverty and the pressure young people face to perform well at school. Those cultural and economic factors are not so easily addressed by government action.