Prior to moving to South Korea, suicide wasn’t something that I knew a lot about. Certainly I had known of people who did it; a friend of a friend’s father, a former classmate who decided that he couldn’t imagine life after high school. Personally, I’ve experienced my fair share of depression and many of the troublesome habits that can go along with it. But suicide is something I never really struggled with myself or talked to people about all that much other than in youth education classes.

In moving to Korea however, I quickly realized what a big deal it actually is. South Korea has some of the highest suicide rates in the world. Just the other day actually, it was reported that two young army privates along the DMZ committed suicide by hanging. Earlier this year, an article was featured in the New York Times. Titled ‘South Korea’s Struggle With Suicide’, the author talks about how suicide really came about with the 1997 financial crisis and facts such as “14,160 people committed suicide in 2012 with an average of 39 people a day.” As the number one cause of death for young people it really is a serious issue. If you want to know more about this I strongly recommend reading this article.

This is not the only news on suicide recently. Yesterday, the Korean Herald released an article talking about how college tuition fees are stressing students out and this tuition is one of the biggest causes of suicide amongst people in their 20’s. Earlier this year, there were several high profile suicide cases including a 29-year-old dating reality show contestant who hung herself with a hairdryer cord at the filming location.

However, this is not to say that there is no hopeful news where all of this is concerned. In March, the Ministry of Employment the new occupation of Suicide Prevention Expert with certified courses being offered in hopes that many new grade school K-12 teachers will become certified in counseling students through these situations. Even private companies are trying to do their part to help prevent suicides, though not all successfully. Mapo Bridge, that crosses the Han River in Seoul has been known to many for years as the “suicide bridge”. A life insurance company this year tried to reinvent the bridge calling it “Bridge of Life” by covering it with illuminated messages of hope. Local police put number plates by each of the streetlamps so that exact spots can be reported and thereby help emergency response workers. Are these measures really helping? In the case of the Bridge of Life, no the number of suicides has actually increased there.

But I have hope that in the beginning signs of really getting counseling in schools that it will in turn teach society that counseling and getting help is ok. It really is. There is nothing wrong with talking to someone when you feel stressed and it looks like there is no hope. If there is anything that I wish I could let everyone know, Korean people I encounter and all of you reading this, it is that IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP. Please, please, please I’m 100% absolutely not joking. I couldn’t be more serious. I Love You Guys Soo MUCH! Suicide is never the answer, neither is cutting, drug/alcohol abuse or relationship abuse. Please, if you’re struggling with any of these things, talk to somebody!! I sure wish I would have when I was younger, I’d probably carry a lot less scars.

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