Extra! Korea

May 25, 2009

Roh Moo-hyun may inspire wave of copycat suicides

Filed under: celebrities, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:53 pm

The suicide of former president Roh Moo-hyun may inspire a wave of copycat suicides.

Early Sunday morning, a 38-year-old man surnamed Han tried to kill himself by slitting his wrist on the mountain path near Owl’s Rock on Mount Bongha, where the late president died, said police officials.

Once he started bleeding heavily, Han called for an ambulance and was transferred to a nearby hospital. He has now regained consciousness and is no longer in life-threatening condition, officials said.

Another 55-year-old man surnamed Shin called the police on Sunday morning to notify them of his plan to commit suicide over Roh’s death, according to the Gwangyang Police Station in South Jeolla Province.

The police tracked Shin’s mobile phone location and found him late that evening by a reservoir, attempting to end his life for the second time that day, after a first attempt that earlier ended in failure.

Others have committed suicide since, though they had not clearly cited him as the reason.

A 34-year-old man named Kim was found late Saturday night after hanging himself in his room, according to the Gwangju police.

Kim’s family said that he wrote a note on his computer just as Roh did soon after he saw the news on television, and left the house. Kim had been heavily in debt for some time.


  1. After one of the celebrities died I posted a KT article that was talking about copycat suicides. It said that three people had killed thmselves in the same way that one of the celebrities did. A commentor, though, made a good point that there are tons of suicides in Korea all the time, and people clearly commit suicide here for a bunch of different reasons and, it seems, pretty easily. Perhaps some might cite this celebrity or that, or even this president, but it’s clear that people just have an inclination toward it anyway.

    Take the kid in Gwangju I just posted about. Sure, it could be that she was beaten so hard, or so regularly, that she committed suicide. But, Korean teenagers are committing suicide pretty regularly, and over any number of different reasons, that I’d be wary of saying one specific thing led to another.

    I kind of lost my point there, but basically, there are a lot of people killing themselves, and it seems like this option enters their mind much more regularly than it would back home.

    Comment by Brian — May 25, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  2. You make a good point, Brian, but some researchers believe there is an increase in suicides following “celebrity” cases.

    If there is a bump (note the “if”), the question is whether the same suicides would have occurred in a more spread-out pattern in the absence of those celebrity suicides.

    As I’ve mentioned before, my bigger concern is not so much in a temporary wave of copycat suicides, but in a general rising tide where celebrities committing suicides makes the act of offing oneself normative and seemingly acceptable.

    Comment by kushibo — May 26, 2009 @ 2:23 am

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