South Korea aims to tackle suicide rate over next five years

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 22 (UPI) — South Korea aims to prevent thousands of suicide cases over the next five years in a bid to tackle the leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults.

According to Statistics Korea, an average of 25.6 people per 100,000 took their own lives in 2016, marking the highest suicide rate among member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

South Korea has topped the ranking since 2003.

After a Cabinet meeting, the government announced measures to reduce the suicide rate by 30 percent to 17 people per 100,000 by 2022.

It plans to analyze 70,000 suicide cases that occurred from 2012 to 2016 to identify the cause behind the deaths as well as regional features, Yonhap reported.

1 million “gatekeepers” from religious and civic groups will be trained to help prevent suicide in their neighborhoods.

As a means of early prevention, the government will run more screening tests for depression while preparing supportive measures for those who attempted suicide.

The government also announced measures to reduce the number of accidental deaths by 50 percent over the next five years, SBS reported.

In order to prevent road accidents, speed limits will be lowered from 37 mph to 31 mph on city streets while the pass mark for driving tests will be raised to 80 points.

Authorities will also aim to reduce hazard-related deaths by toughen maintenance standards in construction sites and factories for shipbuilding, chemicals, metals and machinery.

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