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Self-harm among Koreans rose 36% in H1

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
The number of people who deliberately harmed themselves surged nearly 36 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to a year ago, amid a growing concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating psychological distress here.

The number of medical treatments conducted on patients involved with intentional self-harm stood at 1,076 cases in the first six months of this year, up 35.9 percent, from 792 in 2019, according to data the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service submitted to Rep. Lee Eun-ju of the minor progressive Justice Party.

Taking note of a growing sense of anxiety and isolation stemming from social distancing and self-isolation regimes due to the respiratory virus pandemic, Rep. Lee said the mental distress should be considered as a social disaster, not a personal illness matter.

“Government-level measures and treatment should be prepared,” she said.

Cases among those in their 30s and 20s have significantly spiked beyond other age groups, with 87.2 percent and 80.5 percent, respectively.

Some 595,724 people have been treated for depression in the six-month period that ended June 30, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier. Twenty-somethings showed the highest increase with 28.3 percent.

Suicide reports received by police increased by 1,170 to 42,291 from the same period a year earlier, according to by the National Police Agency.

As the government announced a plan to a pan-ministry Central Disaster Psychological Recovery Support Group to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 to public mental health on July 30, Rep. Lee called to form a team that will map out tailored measures for young people.

“In particular, for the young and low-income families, it is necessary to provide a system that is easy for them to access, such as counseling and treatment support and lowering the threshold of medical consultation,” she said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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