Despite Small Decline, South Korea Remains a Global Suicide Blackspot

Country has the highest suicide rate among the world's most developed nations

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Pedro Ugarte / AFP / Getty Images

A statue, near Seoul's Han river, of a man comforting a person, which was placed by the government to dissuade potential suicides.

The number of suicides in South Korea dropped in 2012 for the first time in six years, but the country continued to have the highest suicide rate of all OECD member countries.

More than 14,000 South Koreans took their own lives last year — only slightly less than half the number that died from heart disease, according to data released by the country’s government on Wednesday.

The suicide rate dropped by 11% from 2011 to 28.1 deaths for every 100,000 people, but that’s more than double the OECD average.

Suicide is a common cause of death in  OECD nations, with the rate generally being three to four times higher for men than women, according to the organization. Hungary had the second highest suicide rate of the 30 OECD countries in 2011, with 22.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

South Korea has battled to control the number of suicides in the country. Experts suggest that economic difficulties and pressure among young people to succeed academically are often to blame.