Taiwan, Japan and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Sunday in Taipei to strengthen experience sharing and cooperation in suicide prevention.
The MOU was signed by representatives from the Taiwanese Society of Suicidology, the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention and Japan’s Center for Suicide Prevention at an international conference on suicide prevention work in East Asia.
The memorandum represented a commitment by the three organizations to share their experience in “research results, services and educational training” in the field of suicide prevention, Taiwanese Society of Suicidology secretary-general Liao Shih-cheng (廖士程) said in a telephone interview.
The three countries share the common plight of having relatively high suicide rates for Asian countries, Liao said.
Thanks to the signing of the MOU, the three sides will be able to enjoy closer cooperation in dealing with suicide-related issues, he said.
From 1997 to 2009, suicide was the ninth largest cause of death in Taiwan. Last year, it fell to No. 11, with a suicide rate of 16.8 per 100,000 people.
In South Korea, suicide ranked as the No. 4 cause of death last year, with a suicide rate of 31.2 per 100,000, Taiwanese Society of Suicidology chairman Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said.
In Japan, the rate was 24.9 per 100,000 last year, when suicide was listed as the country’s No. 8 cause of death, Lee said.
Suicide is a worldwide public health issue that urgently needs to be addressed, Lee said, adding that about 1.3 million people around the world commit suicide every year, 70 percent of whom live in Asia.
At the conference, academics and experts from the three countries exchanged views on topics such as the promotion of suicide prevention in hospitals and psychological impairment in the wake of disasters.