By Yi Whan-woo
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 24, a recent study showed Tuesday.
Research from the Information Center for a Better Society showed suicide claimed more lives of teenagers and college students between 2007 and 2010 than traffic accidents or disease.
The research was based on data from Statistics Korea. Annual deaths by suicide was 13.2 percent among those aged 15 and 15.3 percent of those aged 24.
The rate surpassed that of traffic accidents, the second-leading cause of death, which dropped annually from its highest 9.7 percent in 2007.
Terminal illness was the main cause of death for infants and children aged 14 and under, but consisted of less than 4.1 percent for young adults.
Suicide remained the highest cause of death among women of all ages during the four years. Men were more likely to lose their lives to traffic accident between 2007 and 2008, but suicide replaced it in 2010.
More than half of adolescents aged between 15 and 19, who killed themselves between 2008 and 2010, mentioned stress because of academic work, including school grades and college preparations in suicide notes.
Economic difficulties remained the No. 1 cause of suicide for the 20 to 24 age group, with the rate rising from 18.5 percent in 2008 to 28.1 percent two years later.
“The data shows there’s a serious problem within our social structure in terms of education and the economy,” a researcher said.
“The education system makes teenagers severely depressed. Also, workers and college students in their early 20s have difficulty coping with inflation.”
Korea was one of 20 countries that saw a high rate of suicide deaths among the young aged 15 to 19 in 2009.