J Korean Med Assoc.  2019 Feb;62(2):93-101. 10.5124/jkma.2019.62.2.93.

A social psychiatric approach to suicide prevention

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea. swkim@chonnam.ac.kr
  • 2MindLink, Gwangju Bukgu Mental Health and Welfare Center, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 3Gwangju Mental Health and Welfare Commission, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 4Gwangju Metropolitan Mental Health and Welfare Center, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 5Department of Nursing, Graduate School, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 6Department of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. paikjw@khu.ac.kr

Abstract

Suicide is the fifth-leading cause of death in Korea, accounting for 4.4% of all deaths. Therefore, suicide is a serious medical problem, as well as a social problem. In this paper, we provide a social psychiatric perspective on suicide and recommend suicide prevention strategies based on programs with roots in the Gwangju mental health pilot project and an analysis of suicide patterns in Seoul. First, early intervention and active case management are mandatory to prevent suicide among individuals with mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and alcohol use disorder. To this end, mental health and welfare centers, addiction management centers, suicide prevention centers, and care program after a suicide attempt in the emergency department of general hospitals should collaborate via a multidisciplinary approach. Second, crisis intervention should be provided in collaboration with the police, government officials, and mental health agencies to people who are at immediate risk of suicide. Additionally, case management services should be expanded for individuals who are treated at hospitals for psychiatric illness. Third, social welfare services should be offered to low-income individuals at risk of suicide. Fourth, the mass media should restrict reporting about suicide and follow the relevant reporting guidelines. Finally, access to methods of committing suicide, such as charcoal for burning and agrichemical poisoning, should be regulated by the government. Proactive psychosocial strategies implemented with government support will prevent suicide-related deaths and decrease the suicide rate in Korea.

Keyword

Suicide; Depression; Alcohol; Case management; Mental health
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