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Should Suicidal Koreans Opt For Psycho Treatment? Study Links Suicide Rate to Lack of Intervention

By January 28, 2016 at 1:55 am
A South Korean man attempts to commit suicide by jumping off of a high-rise building near the US embassy after demanding he be sent to the United States on March 22, 2004 (Photo : Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

A recent research shows the link between people's avoidance of psychiatric treatment and high suicidal rate.

A report from the Health and Welfare Ministry shows about 90 percent of suicide victims are caused by undiagnosed psychiatric illness like depression, but 15 percent had undergone intervention before committing suicide.

Korea Herald reported that the survey was participated by 151 family members of the 121 suicide victims last year. The study initiated concerns of the social perception against people suffering from mental problems and substance abuse, which encourages the victims to avoid medical treatment.

The researchers found out that 25.1 percent of the victims have visited a psychiatrist at least once a month, and a higher 25.6 percent went to a traditional Korean doctor for symptoms like insomnia and indigestion, also once a month.

One such example is a man in his 40s, who went to the doctor to get his weight loss and poor appetite be resolved. The doctor diagnosed his condition as a chronic fatigue and recommended him to seek a mental health ally. After a few months, he was found dead.

South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in which 40 people commit suicide every day, as per the government data. This made suicide the fourth most common cause of death in the country.

Psychiatrist Jeon Hong-jin of Samsung Medical Center in Seoul said the incident happens worldwide. About 70 to 90 percent of suicide cases are linked to psychiatric problems. However, in South Korea, people avoid psychiatric intervention as there is a social stigma against such cases.

"When someone with severe depression doesn't know he is clinically depressed, it's more likely that he would find his situation hopeless and take his own life," said Jeon "Being diagnosed can give a sense of control, because once you are diagnosed you can learn that there are treatment options available for you to get better."

The government reported that 93.4 percent of the victims showed signs of suicidal tendencies like change of sleeping and eating habits, but only 81 percent of the families did not think of medical treatment.

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