Suicide Rates

Indicator Description

  • A. Definition

    The total number of people in Korea who take their own lives.

  • B. How to measure

    The number of persons who committed deliberate acts of self-harm (suicide), not including external causes of morbidity and mortality
    Suicide Rate = Number of deaths from suicide per 100,000 population = (the number of deaths from suicide/Mid-year Population) X 100,000
    Number of suicides = Number of deaths as a result of suicide

    • The results of the yearly report on the deaths of domestic residents
  • C. Features and Sources

    Category Sub-Category Sub-Subcategory Type of Indicator Reference Data Sources First year data available Frequency
    Right to Freedom Physical Integrity Rights Right to Life Objective/Result Statistics Korea Reason to Commit Suicide Statistics 1980 1 year
  • D. Interpretation

    Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.” Also, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights clarifies that “Every human being has the inherent right to life.” Furthermore, Article 12 (1) of the Constitution of South Korea says, “All citizens shall enjoy personal liberty.” The right to life is the most inalienable right an individual can possess; therefore, it serves as the basis for every other natural right. While some view suicide as an act of self-determination, perspectives have shifted in recent years to view suicide as part of an individual’s right to life. The view that there is a social structural component to suicide, beyond simple personal choice, has also become more prevalent. The state should not relegate suicide to the realm of individual choice but should make every attempt to prevent it so that individuals can pursue happiness and enjoy their right to life. Since 2010, the number of suicides have declined, but suicide rates have increased proportionately by age group. The suicide rate of elderly people over 80 is especially high. This can be attributed to Korea’s outdated welfare system, which makes the elderly relatively vulnerable to poverty. As Korea is rapidly aging, it is urgent to take measures at the national level to prevent suicides rooted in social neglect.

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