The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Dangerous for suicides

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 31, 2024 - 10:47

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With 25.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2022, South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the mostly developed members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

To curb deaths by suicides, the country has employed a series of measures, which include the designation of certain items as “suicide hazardous materials.” These items are subject to tougher monitoring and management.

The list, first created in 2020, initially included two types of materials. They were items used to induce carbon monoxide poisoning -- namely coal briquettes -- and pesticides. For decades, these two types have been the most frequently used means for self-harm here, likely due to their high toxicity and easy accessibility.

In recent years, as a string of suicides involving new substances surfaced, the authorities added to the list prescription drugs like Zolpidem sleeping pills. A new addition to the list in December was sodium nitrite, which is commonly used as food additive to preserve meat.

Butane fuel, widely used in Korean homes for cooking, especially for barbeques, is not included in the list, despite its potential risks such as flammability and the risk of hallucination when inhaled.

Once designated as dangerous for suicides, the items are subject to a string of regulations, including a ban on online sales and distribution. A violation is punishable by up to 2 years in jail or a fine of up to 20 million won ($15,330).

If you’re thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s helpline at 109, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please request a translator for English-language services.

Answer: b