11 years in a row, South Korea is No. 1 in suicide rate among OECD countries

August 31, 2015
The "Bridge of Life" on Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea, has installed encouraging messages to prevent suicide attempts. This one reads "You were suffering a lot." (Yonhap)

The “Bridge of Life” on Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea, has installed encouraging messages to prevent suicide attempts. This one reads “You were suffering a lot.” (Yonhap)

South Korea is No. 1 for the 11th year in a row when it comes to suicide rate among OECD countries, according to the organization’s Health Data 2015 report.

The average suicide rate among all OECD countries, according to 2013 data, was 12 people out of 100,000.

South Korea, in 2012, saw 29.1 suicides per 100,000 people. In comparison, Hungary, which came in second, saw 19.4 suicides; Japan saw 18.7; Slovenia saw 18.6; and Belgium saw 17.4.

Turkey had the lowest suicide rate, at 2.6 people per 100,000, followed by Greece (4.2), Mexico (5), Italy (6.3) and Israel (6.4).

Although overall suicide rate in OECD countries has decreased since 1985, in South Korea it has risen since 2000.


  1. Janine Pressley

    August 31, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    That’s sad…

  2. michael pucci

    August 31, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    Think it would be north korea

  3. Jeze

    August 31, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    Woohoo, South Korea’s #1!

    South Korea also began the practice of selling their children to other countries and South Korea still leads in overall child sales to foreign families. If your families and country will sell you to other countries before you can utter the words “aniyo”, who needs enemies?

    But cool, South Korea is a leader and innovator in life-altering decisions such as 1) cosmetic surgery, 2) child trafficking/family separation/overseas adoption, and 3) suicide.

    I’ve never had cosmetic surgery, but I was sold by S. Korea, and I did briefly consider attempting suicide – thanks adoptive mom! Were my suicidal thoughts because my country sold me or because of the S. Korean blood/culture I was taken from? Hmmmm.

    - Amputated and sold from South Korea

    • Andrew

      August 31, 2015 at 10:29 PM

      Perhaps you would’ve preferred ancient Greece to be thrown off a cliff.

    • James

      September 1, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      Amputated and sold from South Korea,

      I’m not sure what your birth mom’s situation was, but I ran across someone that thought like you.

      I was born in Seoul, we migrated to USA in 1979, when I was 10. 11 years later, 3rd year in college, someone in your position came up to me and asked to translate a letter. A letter from his mom in Korea, who gave him up when he was only 5. I sat in the library with him and his GF, and I was translating line by line of why the mom gave him up, how she felt after giving him up, and the guilt and pain she feels every waking moment in her day. About 2nd sentence into that letter, I choked up and tears streamed down my face. I felt every ounce of the mother’s pain, why she had to let him go, and felt how much she missed him. The guy sitting in front of me hated his mom. He felt abandoned just like you. His adoptive parents gave him a BMW M3, Suzuki GSX-R, and I could tell that they spoiled him beyond rotten. But I knew that he’d trade all his materialistic buIIsh*t he has for one minute of him being in his mom’s arms. After about 3 lines of translation, the guy says to me with his own eyes full of tears, “dude, you don’t need to translate any further… I get it”. Again, I don’t know what your mom’s situation was. But this I know. If she’s alive right now, she’s hurting for giving you up, and she cries every time she’s reminded of you. Maybe this very second.

    • Jeze

      September 1, 2015 at 12:13 PM

      lol, I went to Greece, hoping to find ancient Greece. I was disappointed to see that ancient Greece was ruins and remains. I was young and naïve back then, but the cliffs are BEAUTIFUL. Thanks for reminding me of so many beautiful memories.

      Thanks for sharing his/your experience and helping translate for that person. I, too, have enlisted kind strangers for translations of very meaningful writings to/about me, bringing uncontrollable tears to my eyes and an outpouring of emotions from my heart. I don’t think my then-partner quite understood why all my sentimental slobbering, but I’m sure that young man understands. After meeting other moms/parents and learning more from Koreans and gyopos, I’ve heard similar sentiments of guilt and shame on their parts. It’s a shame that South Korea’s inspirational rapid development occurred on the backs of so much heartache, secrets, and violation of human rights of its own citizens and families. I hope South Korea addresses the issues of suicide, child trafficking earnestly and honestly. South Koreans deserve better.

    • Ms. Gim

      September 7, 2015 at 7:02 AM

      The ancient “civilization” of Sparta (as opposed to Greece) so admired by SOME folks back in Korea has been used as an excuse for some EXTREMELY poor decisions and behaviors by the same ignorant, cruel bunch. I believe you belong with them. Oh, and MY CIVILIZATION OF KOREA outdid the Battle of Thermopylae with our own Battle of Salsu. Look that up, honeybunch. And I am sure you have heard of the famous naval battles of General Yi Soon-Shin. Eat your heart out, Artemisium. Andrew, I think you need to improve your judgment, especially where your role-models are concerned. Your Spartan mother must have dropped you on your head at birth.

      Dear Jeze had said, “It’s a shame that South Korea’s inspirational rapid development occurred on the backs of so much heartache, secrets, and violation of human rights of its own citizens and families. I hope South Korea addresses the issues of suicide, child trafficking earnestly and honestly. South Koreans deserve better.”

      Absolutely right on, Jeze. And you are right to speak up like this. You keep speaking your truths and keep seeking your answers, regardless of the haters and liars and meanies like Andrew. The Andrews of this world in the end do not matter. The truth speakers DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the long run, and we will leave legacies that matter.

      That you still care, after all that you have been through with Korea and Koreans, after all the heartaches and sufferings you have gone through with your “amputation” from your origins … indicates that you have yet to give up on us Koreans and are still seeking for very pertinent and important answers from Life and from Korea and Koreans. Please do not give up. It is a meaningful quest, a journey growth and understanding. Perhaps your “abandonment” story is not as heart-wrenchingly beautiful as those posted about. Perhaps your mother was an irredeemable she-devil and your father a bag of disappointments. But it is YOUR JOURNEY that is significant. You are unique. You were meant to be here on earth. You have your own destiny to fulfill in your own way, regardless of how you were welcomed into this world filled with Injustices and Cruelty.

      The fact is you and I were both born into a time and a place that was full of pain and loss and seething anger. And great dysfunction and chaos. I was born to a pair of so called human beings who had no business creating Life, and did not have the decency to give me up, for a chance at life. These two creatures were both from great genetic heritage, privileged and spoiled rotten from birth, and never cared for a soul in their selfish, vain, shallow lives. They thought their children were their possessions and inflicted unbearable misery and pain and cruelty onto them, in various ways. These immoral spirits were honored by their successive societies in Korea and in America, and paraded around as Church elders. They were extremely good looking and took everything for granted. Treated everyone else as disposable, as servants, and so much below themselves.

      They gave their 3 children a childhood full of crazy conflicts and big lies and unanswered questions and extreme hypocrisy. Outwardly we were envied and enjoyed high status but our home life was could not have been more dysfunctional, dishonest, abusive, and disgusting. I grew up dreaming of one day getting away from them all. I used to have fantasies of getting adopted into a different family, any sort of a family.

      My older brother went from a precocious beautiful boy to a class president and valedictorian and a star athlete and a heart-throb and a Yeonse University student to a 24 year old suicide. I knew things were going wrong with him long before his first suicide attempt and undeniable manifestations of mental illness at 16. My younger sister, who never did show any sign of conscience, and who was worshipped by everyone she came into contact with for her killer beauty, grew into one of the most poisonous and cruel entities ever to walk the earth. My mother to the power of my mother. I feel sorry for the Columbia Med school Korean doctor she married before I lost touch with her, on purpose. And I sure hope she does not spawn.

      But through it all, I have not lost my faith in my own nation or my people. Nor in my own self. I kept my own counsel, my own resolve, my own values, and found my own way, in spite of all the abuse and calumny. The conventional wisdom would have me grow up into a monstrosity but I have learned to find comfort in helping others and caring for others and trying to change our society for the better. And by society I mean the World at large, not to mention the two Koreas and USA, which has dealt out its own brand of injustices and cruelty to me. AMERICA, BE NOT PROUD.

      I have chosen to use my pain and sufferings to add value to other lives, Korean and American and even Japanese. One does not need to follow other people’s scripts nor do we need to obey other people’s facile passing perceptions of us. What I know is that I will dedicate myself to bettering both Koreas, and hopefully see them unite into a single political entity, as a descendant of Kim Yushin. What I know is that I will honor my culture and heritage and hangle as best as I can, as a descendant of those good Koreans before all hell broke loose with the advent of the salivating big-gun West. My immediate parents have disappointed me spectacularly at EVERY opportunity but I do know of other Koreans worth emulating and I am aware of the Korean values worth preserving. My war-children parents who were SO VERY CONFUSED AND MESSED UP in their teens did not succeed in getting me to become like them. I am a product of my own will, the driver of my own path, and a creator of my own future, to converge with that of my beloved Origins, and I mean to do my share in Korea finding its way to a more bright, loving, and harmonious place after such travails of the 20th century.

      Please believe me, Jeze, I will do my very best to rectify the problems that you have so clearly and succinctly pointed out. I have long been so angry and ashamed of Korea’s utter FAILURE to take care of its own children and SELLING THEM ABROAD and not always to nice folk. Many of those children are not heard of or heard from because they fall into the clutches of exploitative people just like my parents. At least they get done by people without blood ties, unlike me. My mother was always telling me to get cosmetic surgery to look like her and my siblings but I stood firm because I LOVE HOW I LOOK, and so did many others. Now my look is in and their look is passe. And as for suicide, it is not a genetic predisposition, I don’t think but it is that Koreans keep driving each other insane with their BAD BEHAVIOR that they think is cool. In my “hip” parents’ household kindness was an affront to them. Love was a dirty concept. Aspiration was squelched. Positivity was a sign of stupidity. Sensivity (or “senchy” as my esteemed mother called it) was a sign of weakness. A female of intelligence was to be feared. My mother called me AN ABOMINATION from my 3rd year when I taught myself to read and inhaled 5th-6th grade level books. She jacked up the abuse when I scored a few points higher than my “genius” brother who fell just short of Genius Range in our 4th and 2nd grades, respectively. From then on my life became HELL.

      The problem with Korea is that people who behave abominably are left to continue in that horrible behavior, and people stand around calling it LIFE and SUCK IT UP and QUITYABITCHIN. People need to start being accountable for the damage they do to each other, for the utterly vicious things they say, for the absolutely mindblowing nasty things they do to one another. EMPATHY has gone missing … and I suspect it happened some time in the early 20th century when FEELINGS were luxuries and actually more than that. They were debilitating agents of madness. So much hurt on hurt on hurt. So many layers of incomprehensible levels of hurt and pain and injustice. And eventually that became the Norm.

      I think it is time that we seriously set out to GET OURSELVES BACK TO WHAT WE USED TO BE ONCE before we became so materialistic and survivalist and indeed bloodless and insensitive. The long years of Military Dictatorship did their damage too. But now we are able to feed ourselves. We can AFFORD truths. We must have grown enough balls to be able to look into a mirror or two. Once, long ago, KOREA WAS A NATION OF MORAL BEINGS, OF COURTESY, OF HIGH-MINDEDNESS. The gangster brigades of Heungsun Daewungoon, a man who NEVER should have gotten to that position, should not have such a long influence and legacy. I call for truth-speaking, authenticity, self-examination, honesty, and integrity. Some “sophisticated” folks will, no doubt, laugh, but that is nothing new to me. I want SANITY to prevail. It has been so long since it abandoned us all.

      The West came to us with their arrogance, superior military technology, and closed minded bible pushers. They evaluated us on OUTWARDLY THINGS and judged us poorly. Koreans bought it whole. I am snapping my fingers in our eyes and saying WAKE THE HELL UP NOW PLEASE and start telling our tales our of our own vast knowledge. Our souls were ripped away from us, and I want them back in.

      I have been intimately acquainted with it.
      For so many years. Through so many turns.
      When abuse by others become too much to bear
      You want to beat them to it.
      You want to take that control away from them.
      It happens when abuse hits the LIMIT OF TOLERANCE.

      So let us please stop it.
      You church people first, if you please, you phonies.
      And the military dictators were BASTARDS and puppets.
      Let us call things by their rightful names.
      Let us treat ourselves to long intakes of air.
      Let us exhale, and SCREAM OUT OUR OWN TRUTHS.
      Sit and just take it, I am always advised by Koreans.
      I ask them, WHY?
      Frozen anger.
      Frozen anger turning inward.
      That is what we have been at, once we got fed.
      Once we had time to ponder what we have been through.

      How does one solve things?
      One thing at a time. Obvious things first.
      It is not rocket science. It is quite plain to see.
      Start with the end of the thread. Follow it.
      Face each knot patiently and honestly.
      We can do this.

      Jeze, please do not give up on your people. Yes, your people. Of your genetic coding. Of your LONG HISTORY behind your genetic coding and genetic memories. You and I go back a long way. For every Andrew there are also kind and generous and intelligent Koreans. I say this because I have run into them every now and then, in the midst of so much bogus manifestations of evil and phoniness. For every Chun Doo-Hwan there is a Sejong the Great. When my mother acted up I recalled the various Korean mothers of old, before things went nuts. And I derived comfort and inspiration.

      Stay with us.
      I will do my best to fix things.
      You help too, please, as you SEE and SPEAK the truth.
      Korea and Koreans are worth the trouble. You will see.

      Please take care and KEEP HOPE ALIVE.

  4. Danny

    August 31, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    I’m assuming your life in Korea would have been much better than the one you had wherever you happen to be.

    LOL @Andrew The Romans were fine with exposing unwanted babies at the dump, it’s good to have choices in life.

    • Jeze

      September 1, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      Yes, it is good to have choices in life. Being sold for adoption wasn’t one of mine.

      And no, it’s poor manners to assume things about which you know nothing. You should have been raised better. You know nothing about me, my life “wherever I happen to be” or what my life would have been had I never been removed from my family, and for all I know, you know nothing about S. Korea, but “thanks” for your “concern”.

  5. Pingback: 11 years in a row, South Korea is No. 1 in suic...

  6. Simon

    September 1, 2015 at 1:12 AM

    The stigma of being a single parent is unbearable in S.Korea, let alone the poor financial prospect of living hopelessly deprived as a single parent. Does that make it right? Hell no. But your parents, or parent, wanted you to have something better than living through the harshness and thrive with better opportunities in a well off country. Live it like you want and stop blaming your problems and anger at a country you’ll never forgive yet will always look back too. That hate and anger hurts you more when you finally get to meet your mom, late in her 50s fighting cancer, asking desperately for your forgiveness. Life happened to your mom too. Unlike hers, you get to deal with it your own way. Make the most of it.

    • Ms. Gim

      September 7, 2015 at 7:17 AM

      Simon, you seem to mean well, and seem to care. The thing is, you have made quite a few assumptions, starting with assuming that you know better. Please entertain the idea that perhaps YOU do not have all the answers, that YOU may be wrong. That is the start of Wisdom. Get some. Jeze is going through a period of hurt and speaking her own TRUTHS, home truths. Truth does not hurt. Truth heals. Simon needs to learn to listen and to be more caring for another soul in pain. Simon needs to start with himself, actually. I sense the hurt and confusion and conflict in you.

  7. Pingback: More Japanese Teens Will Commit Suicide Today Than Any Other Day of the Year |

  8. Jane

    September 2, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    To articulate on the suicide rates of S. Korea, if you look deeper into it, majority of the suicide happen among senior citizens of age 60-70.

    The issue is due to the policies on receiving governmental support. For example, let’s say you are 60+ years old, and your son has disabilities that prevents him from supporting himself. The government tells you that your son cannot receive the social services/disability support fund unless both parents are dead. Which is ridiculous; what would you choose to do for your child, when you are too old and can no longer work to support your son? Die. :(

    It’s sad, illogical, and stupid. I think the policy should change, but that’s what it is today.

    • Ms. Gim

      September 7, 2015 at 7:20 AM

      I am not particularly concernd with the suicide rates among the elderly. They have had their lives. They did a lot of damage and hurt. They were a generation into hurting, themselves and others. It is a damaged generation, a selfish and abusive generation, an arrogant generation.

    • Ms. Gim

      September 7, 2015 at 7:43 AM

      I am not as concerned with the suicide among the elderly. Not of this generation of the elderly. They dished out a lot of hurt and damage. This was an ANGRY generation damaged by so much. An abusive generation. A supremely selfish generation. The fact that their children have turned their backs on them says a lot. For the children of Korea, brainwashed from birth to worship and obey their elders, to do this … informs me that perhaps JUST DESSERTS ARE SERVED. There is no easy answer to this particular demographics.

      I am, however, quite concerned with the suicide rates among the youth and the even younger. They should be FLYING HIGH in high spirits, learning to stretch their wings, testing out their growing powers. Instead they kill themselves. The pretty as well as the plain. The rich as well as the poor. The successful as well as the struggling. The smart as well as the less gifted. What gives?

      It comes down to perception, doesn’t it?
      It is all relative, really.

      Expectation versus Reality.
      Indoctrination versus Reality.
      Self-Perception versus Evaluations by Others.

      But much more than that, it is a matter of basic decency. People need to exercise better manners, better treatments of fellow beings, starting with oneself. Harsh judgments based on so very little knowledge (as amply demonstrated among some posters here) with a splash of cheap advice … grates. Grates for years. Grates and amplifies.



      We were once a very articulate people.
      Very aesthetically minded people, given to poetry.
      In fact, we were that for far longer than this nasty us.
      Start examining yourselves and what you say carelessly.
      Give a bit more care to what you are saying to others.
      Think a little longer on what you are preaching to others.
      Give one another the space to grow. To breathe.
      Respect each other’s right to be what they are.
      You do not need to be a role-model to others.
      You do not need to force it on others: BE EXACTLY LIKE ME.

      Give a bit of thought to MENTAL POLLUTION and your contribution to it. Give one another a break. The things your parents said to you, you do not need to say to your children. The crazy things you heard need not be repeated to others. Exercise a bit of judgment, especially in what you are emulating, and please do it mindfully. Live mindfully. Speak mindfully. There are people hurting all around you. CONSIDERATION IS KEY. Suicide come of abuse. It is not a mental illness, every time. Abuse victims sometimes reach their limit and just want it stopped in any way. STOP THE ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. STOP OTHERS’ ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. STAND UP FOR A VICTIM TODAY. CALL AN ABUSER OUT AND CHALLENGE THAT PERSON. CARE A LITTLE. CARE A LOT.

      Stop the Abuses and watch the suicide rate drop.

      Yourself and others.
      And do not squish other people’s hopes and dreams.
      That is an act of murder and nothing less.

      – survivor

  9. Pingback: South Korea: Tops in PISA and Suicide | deutsch29

  10. Joyce Yagoda

    November 15, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    Can the fathers in South Korea take custody, themselves of their children, like in the USA? Do the father’s have any say, as to what happens, to their children?

  11. Pingback: Enlightenment: What I learned at my own funeral - The Big Smoke

  12. Pingback: What Will Kill You In Korea? | Neon But More | Lifestyle and Social Trends in Seoul

  13. Pingback: #43 Dull Architecture | kurtzesinkorea

  14. Pingback: Defining Freedom | teachertonurse

  15. Pingback: Defining Freedom - Science AC

  16. in the

    August 13, 2016 at 5:03 AM

    Alumni Home – Alumni – hbu .edu