Peers, Networks and Opportunity

Tracking an Online Trend, and a Route to Suicide

Figures released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that South Korea’s suicide rate stood at 18.7 per 100,000 people in 2002 — up from 10.2 in 1985. In 2002, Japan’s rate was the same as South Korea’s, but the rate in the United States was 10.2 per 100,000.

Experts attribute the increase to the stresses of rapid modernization and the degradation of rural life, but they are also concerned that the Internet is contributing to the jump. South Korea has one of the world’s highest rates of broadband access and, as in Japan in recent years, the Internet has become a lethally efficient means of bringing together people with suicide on their minds.