Local Governments Stepping Up to Prevent Lonely Deaths | Be Korea-savvy

Local Governments Stepping Up to Prevent Lonely Deaths

The number of individuals who are dying alone is increasing every year. (Image : Yonhap)

The number of individuals who are dying alone is increasing every year. (Image : Yonhap)

SEOUL, Jan.15 (Korea Bizwire)The number of individuals who are dying alone is increasing every year.

News reports of bodies being found months after the individual died are no longer a surprise. Due to the rapid aging of society and the increase in the number of single-person households, dying alone is no longer a problem that can be avoided, nor something that can be solved easily.

An individual referred to as ‘C’ (47, male), who was living in a small studio apartment in Busan, was found dead on January 3. The owner of the apartment reported to the police that there had been no communication with C since June. When the police reached the apartment, they found a decaying body. Forensics specialists determined that the man probably passed away in September.

‘D’ (29, female), was found dead in a small room in Seoul on December 15. Her body was decaying under a blanket. The police analysis revealed that she had been dead for 15 days.

Although there are many cases of people dying alone, there are still no direct data that reveals how many cases are occurring. However, through related statistics, the increase rate can be estimated, and it is not difficult to feel the heavy weight of the cases.

In addition, since the numbers of one-person households and seniors living alone are increasing, many local offices are coming up with various policies to help deal with the situation.

Five social service centers in Cheongju, Chungju and Jaecheon help to connect  seniors that live alone or seniors with depression with at least one friend. In addition, 30 local residents are volunteering to save lives. They report unusual behavior to the local clinic to prevent suicide.

Chungnam Province has been operating a cohabitation space for seniors living alone since 2010. Between five and 10 seniors per village live together in a cohabitation area. There are currently 31 of the facilities in operation.

Gijang-gun in Busan is focusing on the fact that seniors watch a lot of TV. A receiver detecting changes in behavioral patterns such as not turning on the TV for a considerable amount of time or not changing the channel sends an alert to social services if any abnormalities are discovered.

Though many countermeasures have been taken to prevent lonely deaths, the measures usually only apply to seniors over the age of 65.

Young people who live alone are left to their own devices, as dying alone is not just a problem among the elderly.

Since the ability of public services to cope with this social issue are limited, it is expected that for significant change to come about, private organizations will have to take on an increasingly important role.

By Francine Jung (francine.jung@kobizmedia.co.kr)

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