Actress Park Jin-hee
By Bae Ji-sook
Four out of every 10 actors here have been suffering from depression and have had suicidal urges from time to time, according to a degree paper by actress Park Jin-hee, Tuesday.
About 20 percent have actually purchased toxic agents or "devices" for suicide, she revealed, claiming that the extreme stress to stay attractive and to remain in the limelight drives them to mental instability and leads them to make drastic choices.
For her masters degree paper for Yonsei University, "Studies on Depression and Suicidal Urges Among Actors," Park, who has played leading roles in numerous movies and TV dramas, interviewed 260 actors last year with incomes ranging from 10 million won-per-episode to less than 1 million won a month.
She found that 40 percent were suffering from depression.
Respondents were quoted as saying, "I am sick of being alive. I want to die" and "I want to commit suicide and have often thought about going through with it." About 20 percent of them actually bought pills or other harmful devices to kill themselves and another 20 percent said that they have confessed to others about their urges.
Park said most of these symptoms derive from their "unstable status" in life. They thought their employment status was too rocky and that their talents weren't received well enough by the public and industry insiders.
The gap between the general public's perception that entertainers "live flamboyant and happy lives" and their actual life being "not so glamorous" also caused them mental anguish.
They were often forced to hide their real characters or feelings from others to remain "likable" and some of them thought "having to stay young and blissful" was self-consuming.
Their stress index marked 53.12 out 100, which is higher than that of self-employed men at 48.12 and salaried workers, at 48.18.
Park's report is expected to create a whirlwind in the showbiz world recently reeling from many celebrities committing suicide and the possible copycat syndrome among their fans.
Actresses Lee Eun-joo, Chung-Da-bin, Choi Jin-sil; actor Choi Jin-young and pop singer Yuni are just some of the well-known celebrities who have taken their own lives of late.
After the suicide by the late actress Choi Jin-sil in October 2008, the number of suicides jumped by 60 percent compared to the previous year, according to Statistics Korea.
"The numbers show that people, who seem to be in the middle of amiability, love and glamour, are some of the most lonesome and troubled," Park said in the paper.
‘연기자 40% 자살 생각’
톱스타 박진희(32)가 내놓은 학위논문에 따르면 연기자 10명 중 4명이 우울증을 겪었으며 가끔 자살 충동을 일으킨 것으로 나타났다.
논문은 연기자들이 계속 매력있어야 하고 각광을 받아야 한다는 극도의 스트레스로 정신적인 불안으로 내 몰리면서 극단적인 선택을 하도록 된다고 주장하며 약 20퍼센트가 실질적으로 자살을 위해 약이나 “물품” 등을 샀다고 밝혔다.
많은 영화와 TV 드라마에서 주연을 연기했던 박씨는 연세대 석사학위 논문인 ‘연기자의 스트레스와 우울 및 자살생각에 관한 연구(2009년)'를 쓰기 위해 지난해 260명의 연기자를 만났다. 그들은 편당 1000만원 이상의 주연급 스타에서부터 100만원 미만의 조·단역 배우까지 모두 망라됐다.