Psychiatry Investig.  2015 Jul;12(3):281-287. 10.4306/pi.2015.12.3.281.

Review of Suicide Prevention Programs: Massachusetts, United States, in Comparison with Seoul

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Depression Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • 2Bipolar Clinic and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Kangwon National University College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea.
  • 4National Evidence-Based Healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA), Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • 5Seoul National Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • 6Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 7Departments of Medical Device Management and Research, Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Sciences & Technology (SAIHST), Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Suicide is a tragedy that has massive impact on society. In order to prevent suicide, active government intervention is necessary. The suicide rate in Seoul is rapidly increasing and is more than five times higher than that in the state of Massachusetts (MA) during the last decade, especially in the elderly. The suicide prevention program of MA is one of the most effective suicide prevention programs in the United States. The program views suicide as a preventable public health problem, and emphasizes treatment of depression and de-stigmatization of mental health illnesses to prevent suicide. Also, through active collaboration with mental health professionals, they try to identify at-risk populations and help them to get medical interventions. The program also actively collaborates with the regional coalition program and the Samaritans in taking care of the elderly, and supports the elderly in feeling worthwhile after retirement by helping them to work for communities as volunteers. For its part, the Seoul suicide prevention program puts more emphasis on "life respect culture" and "emotional support to high risk individuals by regular visiting". The annual budget of the Seoul suicide prevention program is one-quarter and that for mental health is about one-twentieth that of MA. Considering the high suicide rate and lower mental health service usage in Seoul, it is crucial to raise awareness of depression and decrease the stigma on mental illnesses. Furthermore, educational efforts with long-term investment in research on suicide are necessary.


Suicide; Suicide prevention strategy
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