S. Korea to kick off anti-suicide drive

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will push for a set of measures to prevent suicide in an effort to shake off its stigma as the country with the top suicide rate among major nations, officials said Friday.

South Korea is notorious for having the highest suicide rate among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with an average of 33.3 people per 100,000 taking their lives in 2012, far higher than the OECD average of 12.6.

In 2011, more than 15,000 people took their own lives, and the number of daily suicide victims came to 44, according to government data.

During a policy coordination meeting held on Friday, the government decided to set up a public-private committee involving private entities such as those from the religious circle and civic groups, as well as a forum of experts, to explore ways to prevent suicide.

The organizations plan to launch diverse campaigns and events to raise public awareness about the issue, according to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

By seeking an agreement with media outlets, the government is mulling to ask them to refrain from reporting details about suicide cases. A law revision will also be pushed to block access to information available online on how to commit suicide.

In cooperation with local medical and social welfare institutions, the government plans to provide medical and counseling services for those deemed vulnerable, the PMO said.

Based upon the effects of the aforementioned measures, the government will draw up a comprehensive blueprint for suicide prevention, it added.

"Suicide not only hurts the lives of individuals but the national image and its value," Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said while presiding over the meeting, instructing ministries concerned "to make every effort to curb suicides."

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