Actress Jeong Da-Bin and pop singer Yuni, two high-profile young women with successful careers, were both found hanged in the past few weeks, sparking concern in South Korea, which has the highest suicide rate of all Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members.
Police said Saturday Jeong, 27, had been found dead in the bathroom of her boyfriend's apartment in Seoul, having apparently succumbed to aboutof depression over a re cent shortage of work.
Her case was startlingly similar to that of Yuni, who was found hanged in her home in Incheon City on January 21. Her death shocked fans, who were waiting for the release of her third album.
"I am worried that a wave of copycat suicides might follow among youths," said Na Sun-Young of Lifeline Korea, which provides a telephone counselling service aimed at preventing suicides.
"Following the death of Yuni, I received many calls from young people who said they themselves were thinking aboutcommitting suicide. They were saying they had to die because even someone as beautiful as Yuni could not stand it and committed suicide," she said.
She noted that in March 2005, a wave of copycat suicides hit South Korea in the month after 24-year-old film star Lee Eun-Joo took her own life.
The National Statistics Office attributes the high suicide rate to economic hardship in the aftermath of the 1997 financial crisis.
Concern about the high suicide rate has led to a bill aimed at providing counselling and medical treatment for potential victims being introduced to parliament for approval.
Oh Seung-Geun, a researcher at the state-financed Korea Institute for Youth Development, said suicide was the biggest cause of death among men in their twenties, but was often hidden.
Experts say young people can develop more permissive attitudes to suicide as a result of the glorification of victims and their deaths. Media coverage of high-profile deaths is also to blame, they believe.
The deaths of Yuni and Jeong also highlighted the potentially harmful effects ofcyber attackson celebrities. Both had reportedly suffered such attacks on their Internet sites.
"Many Internet users, taking advantage of anonymity, have made a hobby of writing malicious messages on websites, accusing celebrities of sex scandals or (having)plastic surgery," Oh said.
"Measures must be taken to curb this undesirable phenomenon."
bout：a period of time spent in a particular way; a spell（一段时间，一段时光）