Despite the transpiring global coronavirus pandemic, the economic recessions, the in-depth worries of retrenchments, and the lengthened social distancing protocols, which are experienced by South Koreans, the country seemingly delves as well into an inevitable crusade of combatting a mental health crisis.
According to the South Korean Government’s Statistics, the gathered data shows an abrupt increase of people living in South Korea who inflicted harm on themselves in the duration of the first half of the year 2020, bringing the total percentage to almost 36% in comparison to the data recorded in the year 2019. A recorded data of 595,724 people in South Korea have been given the treatment that is relatively brought about by depression, which is a rapid increase of 5.8% in comparison to the collected data, in the duration of the first six months of the year 2019. Alongside with this data, suicide rates and cases has also increased in the country.
Primarily, the huge concern is on South Korean women who are in their late teens and 20s, as cases of suicide are more rampant in them, in comparison to men. A total data of 1,924 deaths in this particular age group during the first half of the present year was accounted for the record. These numerous deaths show a high-pitched increase of 7% in comparison to last year’s recorded figures. Mental Health Experts pointed out with emphasis that these statistical records did not include the cases of attempted suicides, on the side.
According to the statement released to the press by Dr. Park Chanmin, who is the founder of the Seoul Central Mental Health Clinic, was quoted to have said that: “The biggest worry that I hear about now and the biggest insecurity is about people’s futures at this difficult time.”
Dr. Park Chanmin elaborated that at the beginning of the pandemic, people were preoccupied with worries of losing their regular jobs as well as an addition of fears that result in the dilemma of income depletion that takes a toll in their daily life routines. He presumes that these are emerging trends that are inevitable yet realistic.
On the other hand, mental health experts were enormously alarmed with the high rate of suicide cases on South Korean women which reached, 17.9% during the month of April, a time wherein the pandemic created a drastic rage throughout the society of South Korea. This dreadful rage contributed highly to the shutting down of schools and universities, the immediate shift for employees to work under a work from home arrangement, the unprecedented downfall of firms, and the loss of opportunities to go out with family and friends for meals and drinks by individuals, has puffed like a balloon due to the prevalence of the virus.
Following the spread of the virus, the South Korean government had a stricter restriction in the country in the performance of individual activities, and in relation to that, followed a tighter implementation and enforcement of social distancing protocols.
Dr. Park Chanmin made an addition to his statement release saying: “In comparison to other countries, South Korea greatly differs in the practice of social distancing but definitely there is no doubt that stress levels are higher on the part of South Koreans as they are heavily restricted to do socially-related activities as these respective protocols are being implemented.
In accordance to the conducted statistics by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea, the data collected shows that women who are having suicidal thoughts are of higher tendency to commit and attempt suicide in comparison to men, specifically 1.5 times more. In reference to the data gathered during the past year, a 60% percentage of emergency room admissions where composed of women that attempted to commit suicide in South Korea.
In addition to that, a statement released by a Seoul City Official through “The Korea Herald”, an emphasis was made on the premise saying: “The entirety of the first six months of the year wherein the coronavirus made a worldwide strike, South Korean women living in Seoul who are in their 20s, were recorded to attempt and commit suicide, in a five-time frequent streak in comparison to the other collected demographics in the capital city. This record is indeed alarming and is rampantly crucial in the country. Thus as a society, more attention and concern should be given to this matter.”
On the other hand, David Tizzard, a professor of Education teaching at Seoul Women’s University was reported to have said in one of his interviews that: “The COVID-19 Pandemic had another layer of stress and bite to a society that can be of great comparison to a pressure cooker, most especially to young women.”
David Tizzard continued emphasizing his point of view by saying: “ These incidents are not only an attribution to the current coronavirus pandemic because vividly, South Korea is a homogenous nation by nature, and with that, a very clear and high standard for beauty is beset among young women. Thus, when this standard is not being met, South Korean women tend to get depressed.”
In conclusion, Tizzard reiterated the leveling up of Korean women to the so-called “perfect image”. This image is not typical in other multicultural countries but is greatly influential in Korea due to the rise of social media that sometimes leads to depression.