|▲Youth Isolation (Source: Chosun News)
Currently, young people are living in the dark ages of COVID-19 and job shortages. As the social downturn continues, the mental health of young people also shows a negative trend. Suicide is the number one cause of death, for the population in their teens to 30s, in Korea today. The suicide rate in 2019 was 27% for those in their 20s and 34% for those in their 30s, while the suicide rate of people in their 20s and 30s exceeded 40% after entering 2020. It is interpreted that the suicide rate of young people has increased, due to economic difficulties caused by COVID-19. As of 2020, 54.3% (1,471 people), more than half of the deaths in their 20s, died of suicide. The suicide rate of a society reflects the characteristics of that society; not the individual. The fact that the youth suicide rate continues to increase, suggests that the mental health status of our society is in crisis, and that the support system for suffering youth is insufficient.
The increase in single-person households is suggested as the cause of the increase in the youth suicide rate. Currently, single-person households account for 40 percent of the total population. Since there are little to no jobs and individuals live alone, the social disconnection continues for a long duration of time. To make matters worse, the number seems to have increased exponentially through the COVID-19 era. This increase in single-person youth households also affected the rate of lonely deaths among young people. Among lonely deaths by age group, the rate of suicide was more than 40% in their 20s and 30s, 23% in their 40s, and 11% in their 50s, while the rate of youth suicide was found to be far higher, than that of other age groups.
According to a recent interview with the head of a lonely death post-cleaning company, the number of deaths among young people in their 20s and 30s, have nearly doubled, as compared to that of elderly people. The keepsakes of the young people he organized were full of memos with resolutions, such as notes full of job search information, "Let's eat well and take medicine," and, "Let's reduce mistakes in words." All of them were traces of hard work for social life and a living until just before death. This situation provides vivid evidence of how isolated an individual preparing for or just starting a social life was from that society.
While the mental health problems of young people are serious, related professionals and budgets are insufficient. The National Assembly had enacted the Solitary Death Prevention Act two years ago, but the actual progress is slow, and the project to prevent solitude death prepared by local governments, is often tailored only to the elderly. In other words, no specific measures have been taken for each age group. Experts advised that local governments and universities should conduct preventive measures and inspections of youth mental health, from time to time.
Young generations who are driven to compete for survival, often lose their power to live without even being understood by their parents or friends. In a harsh competitive society, young people suffer from mental distress and loneliness as they grow up, and die from loneliness. It is urgent to come up with government-level policies that not only strengthen the will of young people themselves, but also actively help them. In order to prevent the spread of unhappiness and prevent the death of innocent young people from increasing, a daily attitude of looking at people around them with solidarity is needed.
By Seo Ji-min, cub-reporter email@example.com
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