Korea’s suicide rate is on the decline but remains one of the highest in the world, according to the WHO’s annual statistics published Thursday.
And the country keeps the ignominious title as the country with the highest suicide rate in the OECD, ahead even of notoriously gloomy Japan.
The figures, which reflect data from 2015, show that Korea has 28.4 suicides per 100,000 population, the fourth-highest among the 183 countries surveyed.
That is almost double the rate of 14.8 suicides per 100,000 in 2000. Numbers soared in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to 34.1 in 2010.
Only in Sri Lanka (35.3 suicides per 100,000), Lithuania (32.7), and Guyana (29) do more people kill themselves.
But the WHO credits Korea with a dramatic decline, especially by restricting access to agricultural chemicals like the herbicide Paraquat, also known as Gramoxone.
The number of people committing suicide by drinking agricultural chemicals dropped 18.5 percent in 2012 after Paraquat was banned in November 2011, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Suicide by drinking toxic chemicals took up a fifth of all suicides here between 2006 and 2010.