Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 15:30 UK

S Korea takes action on suicides

By Steve Jackson
BBC News

South Korean workmen create a giant national flag on a Seoul government building
South Korea has seen massive social change over recent decades

South Korea is planning new measures to reduce the country's suicide rate - one of the highest in the developed world.

Government officials say they will improve welfare provision to tackle financial hardship.

They will also build more barriers on station platforms to stop people jumping under trains.

The suicide rate, higher even than in Japan, is seen by many South Koreans as a national disgrace and the government has been working on counter-measures.

The strategy it is developing involves 10 separate departments. Full details will be revealed next week.

Economic divisions

Officials from the health and welfare ministry, speaking anonymously, said there would be practical measures designed to prevent people from killing themselves as well as a deeper effort to tackle the causes of suicide.

The regulations controlling the sale of pesticides and other poisons will be tightened.

Internet sites that encourage suicide will be blocked and welfare support will be improved for people suffering severe financial difficulties.

The South Korean authorities say the high suicide rate is caused by rapid social change and growing economic divisions in the country.

They are particularly concerned about the increasing number of elderly people who are taking their own lives - in 2006 nearly three times the number a decade earlier.

They blame illness, poverty and a lack of preparation for old age in South Korean society.

Country profile: South Korea
07 Aug 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Korea
07 Aug 08 |  Country profiles

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