Monday, February 18, 2013

Why are Older People in South Korea Committing Suicide?

The New York Times published a saddening account today (February 18, 2013) of older South Koreans who are taking their own lives -- some silently and others with a public message -- to protest against a nation that they feel has abandoned them in their old age.   In this case, the Times reports, an old woman "staged her death as a final act of a public protest" . . . "She drank pesticide overnight in front of her city hall after officials had stopped her welfare checks, saying they were no longer obligated to support her now that her son had found work."

The reporter says that over-65 years old suicides have grown by a factor of four in South Korea, one of the highest rates in the world. Why?  Apparently older South Koreans don't receive sufficient Social Security or have much in savings.  Many have paid for their children's schooling or homes and consequently have few resources for themselves.  Yet many adult children are not reciprocating by supporting their parents in old age and often even fail to claim their parents' bodies at death or perform other important rituals at life's end. 

These issues affect many older people across the globe.   Is the social fabric in your country disintegrating?  What is the suicide rate among elders in your nation?   Do you find that adult children in your country ignore and abuse their old parents?  Are you worried about your fate?  Share your thoughts with Global Action on Aging in the "comments" section.

We can turn such situations around.

Susanne Paul for Global Action on Aging

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