Suicide smartphone app to save student lives

A smartphone app will try to prevent suicides. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
A smartphone app will try to prevent suicides. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Seoul - South Korea has developed smartphone apps to help bring down its high student suicide rate by warning parents when their children might be at risk, the education ministry said on Friday.

The government-developed apps, which the ministry hopes to introduce this year, are programmed to detect "suicide-related" words used by children on social networks or in messages or internet searches on their phones.

This would then trigger an alert which would be sent to the parents on their smartphones.

"Student suicide has become a social problem requiring systematic and comprehensive steps to prevent it," the ministry said in a statement.

South Korea's suicide rate ranks among the highest of the 34 member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Student suicides are a particular problem, peaking every year around the time of the hyper-competitive national college entrance exam.

Education ministry data shows that 878 students took their own lives between 2009 and 2014, including 118 last year.

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