S. Korean Suicide Rate Rises Sharply

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SEOUL, Sept. 5 (UPI) — Suicides in South Korea hit 15,413 in 2009, or more than 42 per day, a government report said Monday.

The 2009 deaths were more than double the number reported in 1999 and were the highest among the 34-member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the report issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Yonhap News agency said.

The report said suicide became the No. 1 cause of death in the country in 2009 among those between 10 and 40 years of age, ahead of those killed in traffic accidents or by cancer.

The 2009 suicides represented 28.4 deaths for every 100,000 people.

“The government will soon open up suicide-prevention centers throughout the country to help lower the suicide rate that has become a serious social problem,” a ministry official said.

Some analysts told the BBC there had been a move toward suicides among younger age groups in South Korea, with some young people using Internet sites to form suicide groups despite a new law giving the government more responsibility for preventing suicides.

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