|Nearly one third of teenagers here said they have had suicidal thoughts at least once over the last year due to stress over their scholastic performance or other reasons. / Korea Times photo by Lee Han-ho|
By Kim Jae-heun
Nearly one third of teenagers here said they have had suicidal thoughts at least once over the last year, a survey by a state-run institute showed, Wednesday.
In the survey by the National Youth Policy Institute (NYPI) of 9,060 elementary, middle and high school students here between June and August last year, 28.6 percent said they thought about committing suicide once in a while and 5.2 percent said they did so very often.
The biggest cause of these thoughts was academic pressure, with 37.2 percent answering so, while worries about their future career was the second-biggest reason at 21.9 percent, followed by family troubles at 17.9 percent.
The students said their extracrricular study programs left them little time for leisure or hobbies.
Over 45 percent of the students said they study for over three hours every day, in addition to time spent at school, and the time spent studying grew as students got older.
In addition, 44.2 percent said they have less than two hours a day of free time for rest or leisure ― 54.8 percent in the case of high school students. Also, 23.5 percent of the children said they don't exercise or play any sports at all.
Nearly 30 percent of the students also said they thought at least once about dropping out. The majority of these children claimed it was because they did not want to study, while some also cited discrimination by teachers or bullying by classmates.
Nearly 19 percent of the students had experienced abusive language from teachers while 12.2 percent said they received corporal punishment at school.
Eleven percent of the students said they had part-time jobs but 57.5 percent of these did not sign employment contracts with their employers.
As a result, 13.1 percent were unpaid or received less money than they were promised. Over 18 percent were paid less than the state-set minimum wage while 12.2 percent were verbally abused by their employers, 3.3 percent suffered physical violence from their employers, and 3 percent experienced sexual harassment.
The survey found 5.1 percent of the children had experienced sexual harassment or assault over the last year, including sexual jokes and unwanted touching. But 38.4 percent said nobody helped them. Even among those who sought help, only 8.5 percent and 2.5 percent were aided by the school or police, respectively, while 23.1 percent were helped by friends and 18.8 percent by parents.