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Cancer still leading cause of death in S. Korea

SEJONG -- Cancer remained the top cause of death in South Korea, a government report showed Tuesday.

In 2019, a total of 295,110 deaths were reported in South Korea, down 1.2 percent from a year earlier. It marked the first annual decline since 2013.

The statistics agency said 574.8 deaths were reported per 100,000 South Koreans last year.

It also said 158.2 per 100,000 people died of cancer last year.

Cancer has been the No. 1 cause of death in the country since 1983.

Heart disease is the second-largest cause of death for South Koreans, with 60.4 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by pneumonia with 45.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

The 10 leading causes of death included cerebrovascular disease, suicide, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease made it to the top 10 list in 2018 for the first time since 1983.

Among the 10 leading causes of death, heart disease, pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease are on the rise, while cerebrovascular disease and diabetes are on the decline, according to the statistics agency.

The report showed suicide remained the No. 1 cause of death for people aged between 10 and 39 in South Korea in 2019, a chronic problem that has plagued the Asian country for more than a decade.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people in their 40s and 50s.

A total of 13,799 people took their own lives in 2019, compared with 13,670 in 2018. On average, 37.8 people die every day of suicide.

The increase in suicides appeared to be blamed on the so-called Werther effect. The effect, also known as copycat suicide, means an emulation of a suicide attempted by a celebrity.

The suicide rate per 100,000 people stood at 26.9 in 2019, much higher than the 11.3 average among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 36 mostly rich and advanced nations. (Yonhap)