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1 in 3 South Korean deaths 'avoidable', Seoul says

Tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented with the right care, South Korea’s disease control agency said.

By Elizabeth Shim
1 in 3 South Korean deaths 'avoidable', Seoul says
A sign that runs across the Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea, reads, "Look at the sky," one of several upbeat slogans across a span once dubbed "Suicide Bridge." The city has made efforts to curb fatalities. File Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- One out of three deaths in South Korea could have been prevented, according to a report from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report on mortality statistics stated that according to data from 2014, avoidable deaths represented 34.9 percent of all deaths, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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Avoidable mortality is defined as unnecessary, untimely death from which, in the presence of effective care, premature death should not occur.

Of the avoidable deaths, 32,483 cases were treatable illnesses, and another 75,293 were "preventable." A number of those cases overlapped, the report stated.

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Men registered higher rates of avoidable mortality than women: 44.3 percent of all male deaths in 2014 could have been prevented, with 23.5 percent for women.

Avoidable mortality for South Korean men has been on the decline since 2000, when 56.8 percent of all male deaths were categorized as avoidable or preventable.

The ratio of avoidable deaths to the overall population has also declined between 2000 and 2014, from 339.3 per 100,000 to 183.8 per 100,000, a decrease of 46 percent.

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South Korea press did not break down causes of death, but it is possible some portions of the data represented the country's high suicide rate, which is No. 1 among the developed nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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The Korea Herald reported avoidance of psychiatric treatment and excessive alcohol consumption were linked to the rate of suicide in the country.

Up to 40 people take their lives daily in South Korea, according to government statistics, and suicide is the fourth most common cause of death.

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