Linking suicide and social determinants of health in South Korea: An investigation of structural determinants

Yongjun Zhu, Seojin Nam, Lihong Quan, Jihyun Baek, Hongjin Jeon, Buzhou Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Studies have shown that suicide is closely related to various social factors. However, due to the restriction in the data scale, our understanding of these social factors is still limited. We propose a conceptual framework for understanding social determinants of suicide at the national level and investigate the relationships between structural determinants (i.e., gender, employment statuses, and occupation) and suicide outcomes (i.e., types of suicide, places of suicide, suicide methods, and warning signs) in South Korea. Methods: We linked a national-level suicide registry from the Korea Psychological Autopsy Center with the Social Determinants of Health framework proposed by the World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Results: First, male and female suicide victims have clear differences in their typical suicide methods (fire vs. drug overdose), primary warning signs (verbal vs. mood), and places of death (suburb vs. home). Second, employees accounted for the largest proportion of murder-suicides (>30%). The proportion of students was much higher for joint suicides than for individual suicides and murder-suicides. Third, among individuals choosing pesticides as their suicide method, over 50% were primary workers. In terms of drug overdoses, professionals and laborers accounted for the largest percentage; the former also constituted the largest proportion in the method of jumping from heights. Conclusion: A clear connection exists between the investigated structural factors and various suicide outcomes, with gender, social class, and occupation all impacting suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1022790
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 25

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2021S1A5A8062262).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Zhu, Nam, Quan, Baek, Jeon and Tang.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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