The Korea Herald


Teen's death in online suicide inducement case results in suspended sentence

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : April 7, 2024 - 18:41

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A South Korean who gave instructions to a teen concerning suicide has been given a 10-month prison term, suspended for two years, after the teen died using the information, a local media outlet reported Sunday.

The Uijeongbu District Court recently found the defendant guilty of violating the Act for the Prevention of Suicide and the Creation of Culture of Respect for Life, according to a report by the Seoul Economic Daily. It bans distribution of information that shows specific methods of suicide or to induce suicide, the punishment for which can be up to two years in prison or a fine of 20 million won ($14,800).

The defendant posted specific instructions for suicide by asphyxiation on online community DC Inside, which the teenage victim saw. The two also had an online conversation on how to kill oneself by this particular method.

The court acknowledged that some of the blame for the victim's death should be on the defendant, as it is clear that the two talked specifically about the method.

But the court did not find the defendant guilty of assisted suicide, saying there was no evidence to believe that the defendant knew the victim would actually carry through with the act. The court pointed out that the defendant asked in an internet reply if the victim had actually done the act, saying it implied that the defendant did not expect the victim to do so.

The bereaved family of the victim voiced concern over the relatively low criminal punishment of the defendant, saying it could lead to similar crimes in the future.

South Korean authorities have voiced concern over "suicide-inducing information" that has proliferated online in recent years. According to the state-run Korea Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 303,636 suicide-inducing posts were shared via various social media platforms in 2023, up nearly tenfold from 32,588 in 2019.

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If you’re thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s helpline at 109, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please request a translator for English-language services.