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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 20:05 GMT
S Korea tackles high suicide rate
By Steve Jackson
BBC News

Mourners hold a picture of South Korean singer Yuni on 22 January 06
The suicide of a celebrity brought the issue to the fore
South Korean health officials say they are planning a campaign to tackle the country's high suicide rate, which has doubled in about five years.

They are considering a range of steps including setting up more counselling centres and removing internet sites that might encourage suicide.

Suicide has become a big issue since statistics showed a sharp rise in South Koreans taking their own lives.

The death of a prominent actress has added to the national soul searching.

Yuni, a successful actress turned pop star, committed suicide in January at the age of 26.

Now South Korean health officials say they are planning a range of measures to tackle the problem - which they have blamed on an economic downturn and rapid social change.

Although details of the campaign have yet to be finalised, they plan to expand counselling facilities and launch a drive to educate people about the risks of depression.

They also want to tackle the growing number of internet sites that explain how to take your own life and in some cases encourage people to do so.

Other measures under discussion include putting up high fences on bridges and tall buildings and making farm chemicals that are often used in suicides less toxic.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea has the highest suicide rate of any of its 30 members - which are almost all developed countries.

South Korea hopes it can follow the example of Finland - which cut suicides by a third in just over a decade.

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Country profile: South Korea
10 Nov 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: North Korea
09 Feb 07 |  Country profiles

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