North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has reportedly secretly ordered local authorities to prevent citizens from committing suicide.
The prevention order: Declaring suicide as an “act of treason against socialism,” Kim called emergency meetings across North Korea to order local authorities to take preventative measures against the act. His order was relayed to party committee leaders in each of the country’s provinces. In the ruling, Kim reportedly stated that government officials would be held accountable in the event that they fail to prevent suicides.
An alarming trend: Kim made the orders after data in May estimated a 40% increase in suicides since 2022, the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) reports. “There are a lot of internal unrest factors in North Korea due to the hardships of people,” an NIS agent shared with Radio Free Asia. These internal unrest factors include a rise in violent crimes as North Korean citizens attempt to find ways to make ends meet.
In some suicide cases, entire families have reportedly ended their lives together. Others left suicide notes that critiqued the country and its social system, an anonymous official from North Hamgyong revealed to RFA. According to one anonymous official, those present at the meeting in Ryanggang province were told that suicide has had a greater social impact than starvation.
“Family suicide is a final act of defiance against a hopeless system,” the official explained.
Local response: Although North Korean officials have attempted to prevent suicides in their respective provinces and cities, the official revealed little has changed.
“Despite the suicide prevention policy ratified by the General Secretary, the officials were not able to come up with an appropriate solution,” he shared. “Most of the suicides were caused by severe poverty and starvation, so no one can come up with a countermeasure right now.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of international suicide hotlines, click here.