South Korean Human Rights Monitor


The Truth Behind Students’ Suicide

Eunjung Cha September 10, 2012

For several years South Korea has had  the highest suicide rates among OECD member states. However, committing suicide among young adults, especially middle and high school students, has become one of the most serious social problems. Within the last nine months a total of nine students committed suicide in Daegu due to several reasons: oppression, competitive atmosphere and depression and school violence among classmates.

It was revealed that it was compulsory for students to take supplementary lessons and study at school until midnight. That means schools are forcing students to focus on studying rather than providing flexible and relaxed leisure times, even though emphasizing on only academic grades causes bad effects to students’ personality. According to the personality education survey conducted this year, four students out of ten wanted to quit school because of too much stress about academic performances. They said that they didn’t feel interest about their school lives anymore.

This kind of compulsory and suffocating atmosphere is not the only one which can explain high rate of students committing suicide. School violence among classmates in Daegu has been another serious issue which ruined students’ lives. Last year in December, a middle school student committed suicide due to severe school violence among his classmates. He didn’t tell the whole truth to his parents or teacher because he was afraid of revenge from classmates.

In fact, these are not the only problems in Daegu, but problems in Korea. Even though schools are conducting education based on personality, there are still violations of students’ human rights due to its limitation. Education system in Korea has been focusing on strict teaching styles such as memorizing knowledge including cramming education and ranking all the students from top to bottom. Moreover, schools do not teach students creative thinking and how to respect others well. Therefore, students do not have a chance to learn how to care about others and how to improve their way of thinking in an originative way. On the other hand, in the US, schools not only provide a variety of personality programs such as learning mature sense of ethics and citizenships, but monitor its situation thoroughly as well. Through this system, students are able to have enough time to think not only about their personalities, but also about others.

Lack of personality education and harsh restriction of students’ daily lives lead to violation of their human rights and if it gets worse, they decide to commit suicide. Since suicide is not an individual problem, it has to be solved by social dimension. For example, the government needs to support caring systems toward students so that they can realize that they are being loved and cared. Moreover, in order to stop imitating suicide syndrome among students from school violence, solid personality education is needed whenever they take classes so that they can think about how to deal with others with respect.



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