Seoul, Korea, August 12 (Korea Bizwire) – In 2011 alone, the number of deaths from suicide in Seoul was 2,722. At least six members of the family per each suicide victim are affected with loss, which means about 16,000 more Seoul citizens are added every year. However, only 89 people of them have asked for help from the Seoul city government’s service for families of suicide victims.
This program, named ‘Jajak Namu’ which stands for the phrase; Growing Hopes for Families of Suicides and also means ‘White Birch Tree,’ was launched in 2008. Officials have decided to expand the program since a lot of families suffer from a situation in which they cannot properly share their sorrow for it is socially hard for them to be open about the incidence of suicide.
The Jajak Namu program consists of private counseling, writing and camping therapy. In this program, family members get the opportunity to share their long-time buried grief out open with other family members affected. Recently the program is turning itself into a participant-led fellowship, encouraging old participants to guide and support new participants.
In June, a camping therapy took place for emotional sharing of coping methods and strategies dealing with expressing grief. According to a study presented in the conference of Korean Association of Social Psychiatry(Jung Sang-hyuk, 2006), the ratio of people with behavioral and emotional disorders among suicide victims’ family members are eight times and six times higher than normal, respectively. They feel more pain and sense of guilt than those family members affected by non-suicidal deaths. They are also more likely to be in shame and feeling stigmatized.
The Seoul city government’s program stresses the importance of expressing ‘grief reaction,’ an psychological state of experiencing denial, depression, helplessness, shame and guilt after loved one’s suicide. The program runs under the Seoul Mental Health Center (http://www.blutouch.net).