With the recent death of several people in the entertainment industry in South Korea we feel like talking about suicide is very important. No matter how great or glamorous South Korea sounds, this country houses a dark side. Much like most Asian countries mental health and the help it needs is very poor. Usually this stems out of poverty, social status or pressure. South Korea ranks 10th highest of suicide rates in the world. However, it’s not just people in the entertainment industry, it goes even beyond that.
Numbers and reasons
A major contributing factor in South Korea’s suicide rate are elderly living in poverty. Usually because the welfare system in this country is so poorly funded that the elderly would become a burden for their family. With younger people moving to where they can earn money and parents being left alone the tradition of children caring for their parents in old age has vanished and the suicide rates have gone up. Besides from the elderly grade and college students have high suicide rates aswell, mostly due to pressure to work above and beyond abilities but also because of bullying and peer pressure. Among the genders men commit more suicide but women have much higher attempts. Suicide comes usually in the form of Hanging, poisoning or jumping of high places.
Education in South Korea is highly competitive, the students spend almost 16 (sometimes more) hours a day in school or in school related programs/activities. Most of this is to get into a good university, of course most of the students rank near the top of international academic assesment but the stress and pressure often lead to suicide in kids between 10 and 19 years old. Inside of schools, but also workplaces, the pressure/stress isn’t always the only factor. Bullying is also a big part of why people commit suicide. It isn’t put out in the media much but when talking to people from South Korea bullying is always a reason for people to end their own lives. It doesn’t matter which way, by beating someone up, cyberbullying or verbal abuse. Usually it’s said that bullies pick on people because they’re not happy with themselves but in my personal opinion that’s a load of bull to say that it’s okay for the bully to do such a thing and make the victim seem less important (hey look a vicious circle). For some reason humans will always pick on someone, if it’s for their looks, their lack of money or just because they need something to do. Within South Korea looks are incredibly important and there is an incredible amount of plastic surgery being done just to get a job. ( read about that here )
Taking a look at the recently lost singer and actress Sulli (from the girl group F(x)) who since she became an artist had to endure heaps of harassment, misogyny and violence. From being accused of endorsing pedophilia because she looked too young in certain photo’s to being mistreated by male fans who didn’t want her to be in supposed relationship. However within all of it Sulli did her best to stand up, to talk about her own humanity and the problems she faced with media, fans and the industry only to lose the battle and feeling alone and lost ending up in her death. But she isn’t the first, the only one or the last of our idols to take their own lives due to the small mindedness of other people.
Another trigger seems to be that when a person from the entertainment industry commits suicide is that the suicide rates go up for a certain time, usually in the same manner as the idol that died. Mostly because of other reasons but it seems like “if they can’t endure life with how good they have it, why should I” mentality, and maybe some even because they’re so into their idol they can not live without them. Who knows..
It’s an illness
Mental illness in general however is still taboo within South Korea, only 15% of the suicide victims within the country would have received medical attention and proper treatment, but if over two million people suffer from depression, that’s nearly nothing. With the social stigma many don’t dare to seek help and result in seeing no other way out or self medicating with alcohol. Another reason for many of the people in the entertainment industry to end their life.
There is a positive light, Luckily there is a project started to improve and increase public awareness of the illness. Screening and treating high risk patients and restricting access to ways of suicide. Creating apps that monitor students who post, search and look for suicide topics. A lot of the entertainment industry is becoming louder too to try and change people’s mentality towards mental illness. We hope that there will be some change in the future.
Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it but you’re not feeling okay. You might be feeling tired more often, feeling emotional and you might not want to do the things that you enjoy right now. Struggling to cope with everyday life doesn’t look or feel the same in everyone. You are not alone and there are people who can help you.
If you know someone being unable to cope with everything, reach out to them and help them reach out to those who can help.
Call your countries suicide hotline.
- 112 is the national emergency number in the Netherlands.
- Stichting 113Online (https://www.113.nl/) provides a 24/7 national suicide prevention phone line and webchat.
- 113Online hotline can be reached at 0900 0113.
- 113Online Webchat can be found at https://www.113.nl/ik-denk-aan-zelfmoord/crisislijn.
Find your country here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines