Money and fame can’t guarantee you happiness. So go the morals in everything from children’s stories to public service announcements to prestige television. But surely working in a glitzy career with lots of renown and cultural clout, say, acting, comes with some degree of happiness? Why would so many people clamor for the spotlight otherwise?
Unfortunately, despite the glory and attention, working as an actor is still exactly that: work. As people in any workplace can grow aggravated and burned-out with their job, so apparently can those in the acting world; and a significant amount at that, judging by a survey recently conducted by the Japan Actor’s Union.
The union held a symposium on October 30 to report the results of the survey, which questioned 166 of the roughly 2,500 actors and voice actors affiliated with the union. One question, “Have you ever wanted to die because of your work?” received 48 “yes” responses — roughly thirty percent of the total surveyed.
Further questions inquired about actors’ stressors and anxieties rooted in work. Various answers were reported, such as difficult working hours and harassment, which throws the upsetting percentage above into even sharper relief. A psychiatrist who was present at the symposium offered his opinion on the result:
“Celebrities are under constant scrutiny on social media, and though they are subject to intense stress such as stringent food and sleep restrictions, they lack the resources or networks to discuss these problems. This means their anxieties intensify and in the worst cases, it can lead to suicide.”
This year has seen the tragic passing of actors like Haruma Miura, Sei Ashina, and Yuko Takeuchi, as well as high profile reality TV star Hana Kimura. The current pandemic has exacerbated poor mental health for many people, especially young people, and the Japan Actor’s Union is choosing to assist actors’ difficulties in specific by setting up a mental health discussion resource for their members.
While some online responded to the news with bitterness and a lack of sympathy, presumably due to facing hardship at their own workplaces, one commenter had this to say:
“Work is a means of earning money, nothing more. Japanese society is getting seriously messed up if it’s making you want to die.”
While it can be difficult to reach out, especially when you are in a precarious societal position like a celebrity, talking through problems with a trusted friend is a good start; and remember to check in on and show kindness to other people in turn, especially if they don’t seem to be doing so well.
If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.
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