outh Korean police say a suicidal man jumping to his death killed a 5-year-old girl by falling on her as she walked with her parents outside the apartment building.
A police official said the 39-year-old man died immediately after he jumped Wednesday from the 11th floor of the building in the southeastern port city of Busan. The girl died later from brain damage and broken bones.
The official who spoke Friday declined to be named because the case is still under investigation.
The official says it's unclear why the man jumped. He says witnesses saw the man jumping but there was no suicide note.
South Korea has the developed world's highest suicide rate.
As The Christian Science Monitor reports, "South Korea is No. 1 in suicides per capita among the 34 nations in the OECD – and by a wide margin. The rise has been startling and hard to understand. A 2012 report (based on data from 2010), put South Korea's suicide rate at 33.5 per 100,000 people, up from 28.4 in 2009."
Explanations are elusive. As in many Asian cultures, a high premium is placed on reputation, or "face." In one report, South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare cited "complicated socioeconomic reasons and a growing number of one-person households" as contributing factors. As South Korea has become more affluent and image-conscious, the flip side of success may be financial ruin and shame. Notably, in 2009, a year after he left office, former President Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide by leaping off a cliff amid allegations of corruption.
Most suicides don't make headlines. At the elite Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, there have been a half-dozen suicides in recent years. Misgivings are expressed about a driven, ultracompetitive culture that produces students who score 97 percent on an exam and consider it a failure.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.