Kim Jong Un orders North Koreans to stop killing themselves after number of suicides skyrocketed

Kim Jong Un wearing a large tan coat and pointing with two fingers while standing in a grassy field.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File
  • Kim Jong Un banned suicide and called it an "act of treason against socialism," per Radio Free Asia.

  • The number of suicides in North Korea is believed to be skyrocketing, the publication said.

  • Kim told local authorities to try to prevent people from killing themselves, per Radio Free Asia.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has issued a secret order to local authorities that would ban suicides after data showed numbers skyrocketing, according to government officials who spoke to Radio Free Asia.

The exact number of suicides in North Korea is difficult to ascertain as the regime rarely offers insight into the country's shortcomings. However, the South Korean National Intelligence Service estimated in May that suicides had increased by about 40% from the previous year, per WION.

Kim called suicide an "act of treason against socialism" in the directive and stated that local government officials would be held jointly accountable for failing to prevent people from killing themselves in their jurisdiction, according to Radio Free Asia.

The secret order was mentioned in a series of emergency meetings in North Korean provinces, an official from the northeastern province of North Hamgyong — who remained anonymous to protect their safety — told Radio Free Asia.

Data on the number of suicides was provided as well as examples of entire families killing themselves, the official told Radio Free Asia.

The official added that those who attended the meeting were "shocked by the disclosure of suicide notes that criticized the country and the social system," per Radio Free Asia.

Another official from the neighboring province of Ryanggang — who also withheld their identity to protect their safety — told Radio Free Asia that suicide was affecting the community more than starvation.

"Despite the suicide-prevention policy ratified by the General Secretary, the officials were not able to come up with an appropriate solution," the official told Radio Free Asia.

"Most of the suicides were caused by severe poverty and starvation, so no one can come up with a countermeasure right now," they added, according to the news service.

During the meeting, there were discussions involving graphic descriptions of suicide cases, which included further instances of entire families taking their lives.

According to 2019 data from the World Health Organization, there were 8.2 suicides for every 100,000 people in North Korea, placing the country 45th in the world ranking of suicide rates.

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