초록 close

우리사회는 지난 90년대 말 경제위기 이후 자살률의 증가를 경험하고 있으며, 특히 노인의 자살률의 증가는 유례를 찾아보기 힘들 정도의 가파른 증가세를 보이고 있다. 이 연구는 통계청에서 발표한 사망원인통계와 시도별 사회경제통계를 이용하여 자살에 영향을 미치는 요인을 분석한다. 분석 결과를 보면 사회경제적 인구학적 요인들이 연령에 따라 그 크기와 방향이 다르게 영향을 미치는 것으로 나타났다. 이는 연령에 따라 자살에 영향을 미치는 사회경제적 요인들이 다른 맥락에서 작용하기 때문으로 판단된다. 다른 중요한 구체적 발견으로는 인구비율이 높을수록 청장년층에서는 자살률이 감소하지만, 노인집단에서는 오히려 자살률이 증가하는 것으로 나타났다. 또한 젊은 층의 이혼이 노인들의 자살에 강한 영향을 미치는 것으로 나타났는데, 노인들이 청장년 집단에 비해 사회적 요인에 더 민감하게 반응하고 있음을 의미한다. 이러한 경향은 지난 90년대 말 경제위기 이후 청장년층에서 나타난 가족의 위기가 한국의 가족 중심 부양체계를 통해 노인층으로 확산되고 있음을 확인해준다. 이러한 사실들은 우리사회의 자살 설명에 있어서 서구의 논의와는 다른 설명틀이 필요하다는 점을 보여준다.


While Korean society has experienced a dramatic increase in suicide rate, especially among the elderly, it has remained largely unexamined in social demography. Applying existing models that have been used to explain suicides in developed countries, this paper explores the suicide patterns in Korea with a focus on the similar and different suicide trends between Korea and Western countries. Data from the cause of death statistics and administrative units' statistics from the Korea National Statistical Office were used. The results show that the degree and direction of social demographic influences on suicide vary by age groups. Additionally, in contrast to the patterns found in western nations, this analysis shows that in Korea female labor force participation is negatively associated with suicide rates while larger population size is negatively associated with the suicide rates of younger age groups (age 20-59), but positively related to older age groups (60+). The most interesting finding is that the divorce rate of the younger aged group is strongly associated with the suicide rates of the elderly. This suggests that the effects of family disruption in young generations may be conveyed to the old aged by family-centered elderly support system in Korea.


While Korean society has experienced a dramatic increase in suicide rate, especially among the elderly, it has remained largely unexamined in social demography. Applying existing models that have been used to explain suicides in developed countries, this paper explores the suicide patterns in Korea with a focus on the similar and different suicide trends between Korea and Western countries. Data from the cause of death statistics and administrative units' statistics from the Korea National Statistical Office were used. The results show that the degree and direction of social demographic influences on suicide vary by age groups. Additionally, in contrast to the patterns found in western nations, this analysis shows that in Korea female labor force participation is negatively associated with suicide rates while larger population size is negatively associated with the suicide rates of younger age groups (age 20-59), but positively related to older age groups (60+). The most interesting finding is that the divorce rate of the younger aged group is strongly associated with the suicide rates of the elderly. This suggests that the effects of family disruption in young generations may be conveyed to the old aged by family-centered elderly support system in Korea.