북한이탈주민 자살률 “이대로 좋은가?”

“통일부로부터 받은 자료에 따르면 국내 정착한 북한이탈주민 전체의 0.09%

(전체 북한이탈주민 24,010명 중 22명)가 자살로 생을 마감하고 있는데,

이는 OECD 회원국 자살률 1위인 우리 국민 자살률 0.03%

(국민 10만 명당 자살률 31.7명)의 3배에 이르는 수치이다”

(현대건강신문, 2012.10.24일 자)

 

 

우리나라는 1998년도부터 자살률이 급증하여 OECD 국가 중 1위, 최고의 자살률을 기록하고 있다. 세계적으로 자살이 많은 나라로 알려진 헝가리, 일본 등을 제치고 계속해서 자살이 증가하여 「자살대국」이라 불리고 있다. 그래서 자살문제의 심각성을 인식한 우리나라는 2011년 3월 「자살예방 및 생명존중문화 조성을 위한 법률」이 제정되었다. 2012년부터 서울시가 5개 구를 중심으로 시범사업을 시작하였고, 경기도 및 수도권 몇 개 지역의 정신보건센터를 중심으로 자살예방활동이 시작되고 있다.

 

2013년부터는 예산이  더욱  확충되어 서울시 25개 구 전체에서 실시할 예정에 있고, 그 외 광역시 및 지방 여러 곳곳에서 자살예방의 필요성을 느껴 자살예방대책안을 마련하여 실시하겠다는 강한 의지를 내보이고 있어 기대된다. 하지만 2012년은 사업시작 초반이라 미흡한 부분이 여러 곳곳에서 보이고 있어, 올해에 좀 더 보완되어 성숙하고, 좋은 외국 성공사례를 포함해 다양한 대책이 시행되었으면 하는 바람이다.

 

우리나라 자살문제가 심각한 상태에 있듯이 북한이탈주민의 자살률도 기사에서 본 것과 같이 더욱더 심각한 상황에 있다. 온갖 고통과 역경을 겪으며 잘 살아보겠다는 의지와 마음가짐으로 죽을 힘을 다해 국내에 입국했는데, 얼마나 외롭고 고통스러우면 힘듦을 견디지 못하고 가족을 저버린 채 자신의 목숨을 스스로 끊겠는가? 여기서는 우리는 한 번 더 심각하게 생각해 볼 이유가 있다.

자살은 많은 연구와 실전에서도 볼 수 있듯이 우울증이라는 한 가지 병 때문에 자살하는 것만은 아니다. 자살의 원인은 가정문제, 경제적 문제, 건강문제 등 다양한 문제가 서로 얽히고설켜서 일어나는 복합적인 문제로 알려졌다.

 

북한이탈주민의  자살원인은 모든 것이 새롭고 낯선 곳에서 부적응, 언어 및 가치관 문제, 북한에 대한 사회적 편견 등으로 인한 지역주민과의 갈등, 국내 입국하기만 하면 정신적으로 안정되고, 의식주 문제가 모두 해결될 수 있다는 기대감, 생활고, 건강문제 등 사회 복지적인 문제가 더욱 더 클 것으로 생각된다. 이런 다양한 문제가 어떤 것 하나도 해결되지 않고 치료하지 않은 채 계속 이어진다면 결국엔 자신 스스로 목숨을 끊는 정말 안타까운 현실이 계속될 것으로 전망된다.

 

통일 염원을 기대하며 국내 입국한 북한이탈주민들이 이같이 자신 스스로 목숨을 끊는 현상이 계속된다면 우리나라가 지향하는 통일은 무슨 의미가 있겠는가? 다시 생각해  보게 된다.

 

그러면 어떻게 북한이탈주민들의 자살을 예방할 수 있을까?

 

첫째, 북한이탈주민들의 자살예방을 위해서는 실태 파악이 가장 중요하다. 통계청에 따른 정확한 자살통계가 나와야 한다. 그리고 북한이탈주민들이 가지고 있는 문제점 등 자살원인 및 동기를 파악하여 이것을 바탕으로 한 체계적이고 실질적인 자살예방대책을 세워야 한다. 둘째, 자살의 이해 및 대처, 지원방법에 대한 자살예방교육을 실시해야 한다. 셋째, 자살 고위험군 발굴 및 정서적 안정을 위한 1:1 멘토링 서비스를 마련해야 한다. 넷째, 각 지역의 지역복지관 및 정신보건센터, 학교, 병원 등 여러 기관과 네트워크 구축 등을 통하여 필요한 지원을 바로 받을 수 있는 연계가 필요하다.

 

해외상생기자단  일본릿쿄대학교 박 혜 선

 

North Korean Defector Resident’s Suicide Rate: “Can This Continue?” 

 

“According to the data from the Ministry of Unification, 0.09% of the total North Korean defectors living in South Korea (22 out of the total 24,010 North Korean defectors) end their lives by suicide. 

This is a figure that is 3 times higher than our country (South Korea)’s suicide rate of 0.03%, which is the highest among OECD member countries, (suicide rate of 31.7 people out of 100,000 citizens).”

(Hyundai Health Newspaper, date 10.24.2012)

 

Since 1998, our country’s suicide rate has increased drastically, resulting in the highest suicide rate amongst the OECD nations. Our country’s suicides continuously rose surpassing other countries known for frequent suicides such as Hungary and Japan, causing our country to be labeled as a [suicide nation]. To acknowledge this serious problem, a [legislation on creating suicide prevention and life respecting culture] was established in March, 2011. Starting in 2012, it was put into effect centered on 5 districts in Seoul as a test project and a suicide prevention activity centered on the mental health center in Gyeonggi-do and a few metropolitan areas began as well.

 

In 2013, the budget will be increased so that the legislation will be implemented in all 25 districts of Seoul, and suicide prevention program in other metropolitan cities and other regions are expected to increase due to the growing need for suicide prevention. However, since many of these projects are at their initiating stages, they need some improvements. Hopefully in the near future, supplementary actions and growth with the inclusion of looking at successful foreign cases will take place.

 

What is worse than our country’s current suicide rate as a nation is that of North Korean defectors residing in South Korea. The pain and hardship North Korean escapees had to experience while settling in South Korea must have been undoubtedly great for them to take their own lives after surviving the grueling flight from the North. This is a reason why we must seriously address this issue.

 

As it can be seen in many research and case studies, depression isn’t the only reason people commit suicide. It is known that the cause of suicide can come from a combination of issues such as family problems, economic problems, and health problems.

 

The causes of suicide for the North Korea defectors specifically are failure to adapt to the unfamiliar environment, issues of language and values, conflict with the local residents due to the social prejudice against North Korea, expectations that they will become mentally stable upon entering and that all the issues on food, clothing, and shelter will be resolved, hardships of life, health problems, and other social welfare issues. Without tackling these various issues, this unfortunate phenomenon will continue to plague the North Korean defector community.

 

What significance does our hope for unification have if North Korean defector residents continuing to take their own lives while settling in South Korea? 

 

Here are some of the preventive measures that could be taken in order to decrease suicides of North Korean defectors.

 

First, to prevent North Korean defector residents from committing suicide, an accurate understanding of the current situation is most important. An accurate statistics on suicide needs to be released from the National Statistical Office. Then, systematical and practical suicide prevention measures based on the understanding of the problems and its motives the North Korean defector residents are faced with needs to be formed.

 

Next, an education on suicide prevention, specifically understanding, handling suicide, and support methods, must be conducted.

 

Also, efficient system of discovering high-risk suicide patients and a 1:1 mentoring service for emotional stability must be established.

 

Finally, forming a network of local welfare centers and mental health centers in each region, schools, hospitals, and various institutions to provide support is essential.

 

Ministry of Unification Overseas Correspondent (Rikkyo University, Japan)

 Park Hye-sun

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