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More Elderly Seeking Suicide Counseling

Posted March. 05, 2010 09:29,   


More senior citizens are seeking help for their suicidal urges by visiting suicide prevention centers around the Seoul metropolitan area.

Between 30 to 400 elderly people visit such centers every week in Seoul’s Seodaemun, Seongbuk and Nowon districts and those in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, to get counseling and treatment for suicide.

A significant number of senior citizens say they feel the urge to commit suicide though they have no major problems in living.

“Jae-hee,” 71, said she is helpless because of her age. She was wealthy and had a good relationship with her husband and children.

She got ill two years ago and began feeling a massive urge to sleep. She went to the hospital but doctors found nothing wrong with her. Since then, she said she has felt more suicidal.

“At some point, I felt I’d become a burden to my children. From that point, I often felt the urge to die.”

Lee Myeong-su, the head of Seoul Mental Health Center, said, “Elderly people feel their issues are bigger than they are because they see no hope that things will get better if they live more.”

Counselors say it is important to recognize suicidal tendencies to prevent the elderly from taking their own lives. This is because few senior citizens visit suicide prevention centers by themselves first.

Most senior citizens who talked to The Dong-A Ilbo at the centers said they were first angry at themselves first, asking why they needed to go to a center if they were not mental patients.

Run by municipal and provincial governments, the suicide prevention centers survey senior citizens twice a year at homes for the elderly and churches. They assess the level of risk to care for those at high risk.

They often call them to check their condition and provide friendship, offering counseling at home and psychological treatment at a center.

Kang Sun-seong, a team manager of Seodaemun Suicide Prevention Center for Senior Citizens, said, “We can prevent suicide among senior citizens only when they feel that someone cares for them.”

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