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Thursday,November 21,2019
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Right to commit suicide is nowhere

 

Recently Koreans heard the astonishing news that one of their idols, Choi Yun-hee, killed herself.  She was a famous copywriter who appeared on various TV talk shows. The reason for her suicide was because she had an incurable illness. Even more astonishing was that her husband took his own life as well. The couple was found dead in a hotel room on October 7th.

Yun-hee left a suicide note.  It read, "I have suffered from a painful illness, the name of which is systemic lupus (an immune disorder) for two years, and have been in and out of the hospital over that time.  My lungs were full of fluid a week before Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) and finally the disease spread to my heart.  I can't tolerate this any more, thus refuse to get more IV’s (an injection of Ringer's solution).  My healthy husband has decided to die to be with me.  I love you, my darling."

There are different opinions on the couple's death.  Some are sympathetic for her and pray for their souls.  Others criticize the late copywriter and her husband because they did not worry about the negative social effects their suicides will have on others.  Take  "Werthers Syndrome" for example, a phenomenon that people who love or trust late celebrities will follow them by killing themselves when faced with difficulties. 

I agree with the latter opinion because I feel that celebrities have important responsibilities.  The public imitate every single part from their hairstyles, fashion, and even the way they think about life.  Koreans killing themselves is not a new trend. This has been going on for a long time but it is on the rise.  As such the suicide rate in Korea has increased.  Korea belongs to the nations with the highest suicide rate among OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries since early 2000. Even Roh Mu-hyun, the former president of Korea, committed suicide last year.  Now Korea faces a very serious problem because of its high suicide rates.

Celebrities are not solely responsible for this phenomenon.  Some experts say that Korea is not actively providing suicide prevention measures so there will be no quick fix.  The fact that the media focus on these events rather than focusing on other strong people who are facing similar situations and continuing to fight through them is also very disappointing and does nothing to prevent people from committing suicide. These people could make for inspiring stories but their stories are nowhere to be found. Instead, we are bombarded with pictures of crying celebrities at funerals. Killing ourselves for whatever reason is never the right way. 

Some might be of the opinion that we are free to kill ourselves because everyone has the right to do what they want.  I understand this, but what about when that right affects others in a negative way. We are all connected with each other on this Earth and in this country.    Even one clump of grass is helpful for many organisms.  Let’s celebrate a life and try to make it better rather than run away. 

Yun Seon-ju  besensible@dongguk.edu

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