The Korea Times tells us that
Keywords "suicide methods'' and other words related to suicide will be, in principle, banned from input for online communities, blogs and other communal cyber spaces, the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs said Monday.To counter growing group suicides in the nation, the ministry will join hands with police, telecommunication authorities, civic groups and portals to ban keywords related to suicide and block access to Web sites.One wonders what will happen to the suspected suicidal people who are reported to the police. While this may be just another example of the government controlling information on the internet (for citizens' own good, of course), my first thought was that this plan would likely be a lot cheaper than building screen doors on every subway platform in Korea to prevent the many suicides that occur there. Originally, every station in Seoul was to have screen doors by 2011. At that time we were told that "A total of 65 people committed suicide at metro stations [in 2007], when only 39 stations in Seoul, or 15 percent, had the protective system installed." As of earlier this month, the plan is now for all stations to have screen doors by the end of 2009:
Among the banned words are "suicide,'' "suicide methods,'' "group suicide,'' and other terms pertaining to suicide. Postings containing information about suicide will be deleted and the operators of online cafes on the subject could be prosecuted. The prosecution recently arrested a Web site operator of an online suicide information cafe.
Rental car dealers, charcoal brisket sellers as well as hotel and inn managers are encouraged to report any "suspicious groups of people'' they notice to local police. Those who report such activities will be rewarded. Newspapers and other media outlets are also requested to "refrain from describing the methods and locations of sites'' to prevent further copycat suicides.
So far, the doors have been installed at 92 stations in total, but installations at the remaining 173 stations have been delayed for budgetary reasons.[...]One wonders whether they were true accidents, like this one, or whether they were "accidents," like the one mention in this letter to the editor, in which the author writes:
"We received the approval to use a supplementary budget from the National Assembly last month,'' the city said in a statement. "The installations at all Seoul subway stations will be completed by the end of the year, a year earlier than the original target of December 2010.''
According to Seoul Metro, 272 people fell on the subway tracks in the capital between January 2004 and August 2008 ― 172 being killed after being hit by a train. Of them, 239 were attempts at suicide, while the others were accidents.
The train-track jumper sacrifices himself in front of hordes of people because he wants to leave a message. And I’m pretty sure that message is not: “Put more doors on subway platforms”.Again, I'm left wondering just what systems will be in place to treat those who are reported to police for seeming suicidal. If that part of the solution hasn't been developed, there is, I think, merit in both placing the screen doors in the subway stations (Kushibo makes a good case here), as well as in trying, if not to ban the word 'suicide' (a new one will take its place), then at least stopping the media from reporting on it so much. Note that in my previous posts about suicide, there was no problem at all to find videos of people killing themselves - something that really isn't necessary. I remember in high school being told that the media in Toronto never reported on subway suicides in order not to encourage them. This comment touches on this:
It's not that stories of subway or bridge suicide are specifically avoided in the media, suicide stories (except 'suicide-by-cop' or 'murder-suicide') simply aren't covered, period. Suicide is a major buzzkill and there appears to be a tacit agreement on the part of city desk editors to avoid suicide stories as much as possible. There may be some pressure from emergency services and law enforcement to that end as well.Perhaps that's what's going to begin here as well. Of course, you have to ask yourself why reporting on suicide is so common here as compared to Canada (if the above comment is correct). It's not something I've really thought about before. Does anyone else have any ideas?
Finally, this article is interesting:
The country's three largest life insurers ― Samsung, Kyobo and Korea Life ― said Sunday that they paid 192.4 billion won in death benefits for suicides in fiscal year 2008 up 9.8 percent from the previous year. The number of such insurance claims also rose 4.9 percent to 1,685 cases in the one-year period from April 2008 to March 2009.[...]I imagined life insurance companies would never pay out after a suicide, but I was wrong. I was curious what percentage of people were insured when they died, and this article says that "The National Police Agency recorded 14,011 suicides by South Koreans in 2005." The article notes that the founder of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention* "said he recently won agreements from Internet search engines to link the keyword "suicide" with centers providing counseling, instead of sending the people to sites that would help them devise ways to kill themselves." If ways were found around blocked keywords then, I really have to wonder how useful this new plan is. As always, fostering positive attitudes in regard to mental health and treatment would be far more useful than continuously hiding the keys to the proverbial gun cabinet.
Life insurers mostly adopt a two-year rule ― they don't pay death benefits if an insured person kills themselves within two years after signing up for a policy ― as a means to discourage suicides, but after this period they are required to payout for suicides just like any other death.
*More comments from the president of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention can be found here. What I found interesting was this comment:
What has changed most, Hong says, is family structure. Before the economic miracle, multiple generations lived together in one home. Now, a South Korean household might consist of only three or four people.This reminds me of the mother of a large family from the countryside who traded places with a city mom for one week on a TV show, and her observations, which I wrote about here:
"What that means is that the social support system has changed," he said. "Previously [it was] very close-knit family, mutually dependent, helping each other. Now it's very independent, small family, and when things happen you have very little support from other people."
“This week, I learned that families in the city respect each other’s world. Each and every person has their own thing going on and they rarely interrupt other people’s private space. In the long run I believe such a lifestyle would end up deepening isolation and loneliness.”