Health workers are grappling with soaring numbers, particularly in economically successful countries
February 17, 2014
It is a question that has puzzled mental health experts in Asia for some time: Why are so many elderly Asians committing suicide?
The past decade has seen astonishing spikes in the rate of Asians over 65 choosing to end their lives early, particularly in the region’s economically successful countries.
• In South Korea, for example, suicides in that age group have risen more than fivefold, from 14 per 100,000 in 1990 to 77 per 100,000 in 2009, according to Hallym University’s Institute of Aging.
• In Taiwan, seniors took their lives more than twice as often as any other age group, at a rate of 35.8 per 100,000 in 2010, versus 17.6 for the national average.
• Suicides among city dwellers in China aged 70 to 74 surged to 33.76 per 100,000 in the mid-2000s, up from 13.39 in the 1990s.
And these numbers are expected to rise.
A 2011 report found that mental well-being would likely worsen over the next two decades in Asia, with suicide rates expected to continue climbing.