September 23, 2015
So, we’ve been holding off on doing this topic for a while, because it’s really tough to handle something as serious as this. Not just because suicide itself is such a challenging issue to discuss openly and carefully, but also because Korea has such a high suicide rate. But after we saw an article on the front page of Reddit that Korea lead the OECD in suicide again this year, we realize that a lot of people might be aware of the high numbers but not aware of the stresses that might cause those numbers to be so high.
We also know that suicide is a personal issue, and not just a social issue, so even though we discussed a lot of the aggravating factors for suicide in Korea, those factors alone don’t have the final say in what a person does with their life. We can’t just say “what happened? Korea happened.” That obviously wouldn’t be fair. Almost everybody in Korea deals with the factors we mentioned in this video. Tough school and tough jobs and tough retirements aren’t a guaranteed recipe for suicide, of course. We just tried to share the research we found on what many are attributing to the high suicide rate in Korea.
There are other factors we didn’t mention in this video. Bullying at schools is a factor. Sexual harassment is a factor as well. Challenges with social integration were mentioned. And there are, again, lots of other personal reasons that factor in. Everyone has their own reasons, and we can’t possibly discuss every one of them. I’m not sure how useful that would be.
What we are hoping, though, is that people watching this who might feel trapped in a miserable cycle consider that there are other ways out. If you’re ready to leave it all behind, there are other ways. Quit your big job for a small coffee shop job. Sell everything and move to another country. Go on a world tour with almost no money and just couch surf. You can leave in far less permanent ways. There’s always a new life and new lives waiting for you somewhere else, while there’s only one death. And I always suggest you choose life no matter how scary the options seem.
We also can’t emphasize enough that seeking counselling is so important. I don’t think we emphasized enough in the video that 80-90% of teenagers who sought counselling had happier lives after doing so. 80 to 90 percent! But the stigma of counselling is so strong here and it’s causing so much more harm than it needs to. We have a friend here whose brother was in a very bad car accident, and now, after many surgeries, and brain trauma, he’s having a lot of uncontrollable anger issues that he didn’t face before. His parents are actually trying to tell him NOT to go to counselling for it, because they think it looks bad. Seriously. We’re all trying to convince him not to listen to his parents, but it’s really tough for someone who’s seeking help to be scolded for doing so.
For Korean people, if you feel the need to, please don’t hesitate to contact a counsellor. We’ve got two links for you:
If you have a Korean friend that you feel might benefit from counselling, you can share those links with them as well.
For people in Korea who are more comfortable with English, if you would like to speak with a counsellor, you can go either:
These resources aren’t really the easiest to find and we ourselves have never been to counsellors in Korea, but we have both been to counsellors in Canada. Fortunately our eatyourkimchi.com website does kinda well on Google search results, so we’re hoping to get these links some more visibility, and please please please share this post or these links if you know anyone suffering from depression, down thoughts, or general unhappiness. Both Simon and I went to counsellors when we were suffering from depression in Canada and I can’t express how important it is to have someone impartial to talk to. An impartial person allows you to express and vent your feelings freely and they’re not tied to their emotions because they know you as a student, friend, or family member.
For those of you not living in Korea at all, (roughly 97% of you who watch our videos), here’s a list of Worldwide Suicide and Crisis Support Numbers that I hope you can use to help a friend or to help yourself.