Following the recent suicide research of elementary school teacher suicides, there have been condolences and demands for educational reforms. However, official figures released on Sunday revealed that 100 teachers nationwide have also committed suicide in the previous six years, underscoring the crisis in the educational system.
100 teachers from public schools around the country committed suicide between 2018 and June of this year, according to a study from the Ministry of Education that was obtained by conservative People Power Party lawmaker Chung Kyung-hee on Sunday.
There were 57 elementary school teachers within the group of educators, followed by 28 high school teachers and 15 middle school educators. Despite making up the majority of the 441,795 instructors nationwide as of last year, the suicide rate among primary school teachers is frighteningly high.
Over half of the 30 deaths for which a cause could be determined were due to depression and panic disorders. Family conflicts, health-related sadness, demands from mandatory military duty, and personal concerns were some of the additional causes.
From 14 in 2018 to 22 in 2022, teacher suicides grew steadily. It marginally decreased to 19 last year, but there have already been 11 in the first half of this year, suggesting that the annual total may be higher by year’s end.
By region, Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, which has comparatively more schools, pupils, and teachers, saw 40% of the deaths.
In other parts of the nation, Busan reported nine teacher suicide, followed by other provinces with between eight and three. The educational offices in Gwangju, Jeju, and North Chungcheong Province reported no teacher suicides during the time period in question.
In the meantime, the education sector is struggling to deal with the growing crisis in teachers’ mental health brought on by their jobs.
The number of teachers visiting psychotherapy centres run by regional educational offices reached a record high of 36,367 during the first semester of last year, according to the Korean Educational Development Institute.
Each of the seventeen regional educational offices operates a centre to support the rights of teachers and offer them psychological support. Demand for these services has been rapidly increasing, increasing by 74.5 percent between 2020 and 2021, from 19,310 to 33,704. However, as of June, there were just 26 licenced professional counsellors working in these facilities across the nation.
Investigations into the death of a 23-year-old teacher who was discovered dead from an apparent teacher suicide in her classroom in central Seoul on July 18 by police and educational officials are still ongoing.
Her passing prompted educators all throughout the nation to speak out about the difficult working conditions they endure as a result of frequent parental complaints and to demand legislative changes to strengthen teacher rights.
Over 30,000 teachers from all over the nation met on Saturday to protest in big numbers against their working conditions. They demanded better working conditions and more robust protections for their rights.
In the sweltering heat, the participants wore black in remembrance of the deceased teacher and urged the authorities to take action to defend teachers’ rights and amend laws governing child abuse punishment, which they claimed could lead to innocent teachers being falsely accused and obstruct their ability to teach.
Since July 22, teachers have participated in collective action for a second weekend.