Seoul’s suicide rate fell to 23.8 people per 100,000 last year from 26.9 in 2011, thanks in large part to a 28% decline in the rate for men and women in their 20s, the city government said Monday in a news release.
It attributed the overall falling suicide rate to various antisuicide programs it runs–including expanding counseling services and hotlines aimed at preventing suicides–with an ambitious goal to halve the rate by 2020, but it didn’t provide any reasons for the particularly sharp decline in suicides among younger residents.
“The first fall in six years seems partly attributable to fewer cases of copycat suicides in the country,” an unidentified Seoul city government official told Yonhap news agency. Korea’s media have been taken to task for breathless reporting of celebrity suicides. Most recently, Seoul National Hospital President Ha Kyoo-seob laid out datashowing that the incidence of suicide rises after celebrities take their own lives. This followed the apparent suicide in January of Cho Sung-min, who was most famous for being the husband of actress Choi Jin-sil who took her own life in 2008, a few years after her divorce with Mr. Cho.