SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s health ministry recently announced the 5th Basic Plan for Suicide Prevention (2023-2027) during a public hearing on Feb. 13.
One of the key initiatives is the ban on the production of coal fire lighters, which are commonly used in suicide attempts, and the development of eco-friendly alternatives.
An official with the Ministry of Health and Welfare emphasized that the ban aims to prevent suicide and provide low-harmful-effect alternatives to the human body.
The public hearings gained widespread attention, particularly on social media, with many individuals commenting on the government’s suicide prevention measures.
Some criticized the proposed ban on coal fire lighter production, suggesting instead the removal of the bridges spanning the Han River and the destruction of buildings with two or more floors.
In response to these criticisms, the health ministry released a press statement on Feb. 21, explaining that managing carbon monoxide and pesticides can effectively prevent suicides.
Furthermore, the ministry highlighted the significant decrease in pesticide poisoning suicides from 2,103 in 2012 to 741 in 2021 by canceling the registration of toxic pesticides in 2011.
Despite this, the criticism did not subside, leading the ministry to issue a second press release on Feb. 22 clarifying that the ban is not on all production of coal fire lighters but only on the “oxidizing agents” used in their production.
The suicide prevention policy committee under the Prime Minister’s Office will confirm this measure.
The current suicide prevention support measures being implemented by the government are considered less effective for patients at high risk for mental health issues.
One significant issue is the low response rate to counseling calls, and the high threshold for emergency room interviews due to a lack of personnel.
As of last year, the suicide rate in South Korea was 26 per 100,000 people, which is more than twice the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 11.1 per 100,000.
South Korea has held the top position for 20 years since 2003, which is a matter of significant concern.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)