"I went to visit my mother and found she had died three days earlier," said the 62-year old man from Osaka. "It came as a shock. I wished I'd kept in closer contact with her."
Such sad endings, however, are by no means limited to the elderly. The "Be Between" survey in the Saturday Asahi Shimbun (Jan 28) related the case of when a company noticed one of its employees, a bachelor in his 30s, had not shown up for work for three days, it contacted the management company that looked after his apartment. Upon opening the door, he was found inside, dead of a cerebral hemorrhage.
To the question "Are you making any effort to avoid solitary death?" only one-third of the 1,739 survey respondents gave a positive reply, this despite the fact that more than four out of 10 said they knew people in their sphere of acquaintances who might be susceptible to solitary death. The most common preventative measures, they said, included taking added health precautions, and endeavoring to keep in regular touch with family members or near neighbors.
Nikkan Gendai (Jan 27) reports that while the phenomenon of "kodokushi," which is written with characters meaning "to die alone," generally tends to be associated with the elderly, it's become increasingly common among those in their 20s and 30s. According to data from the Tokyo metropolitan government's Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, in Tokyo's 23 central wards during 2015, 238 people in their 20s and 30s, of whom 80% were males, were found to have died alone. The annual figure has fluctuated around 250 over the past three years.
In the cases of females, the discovery of the death was often made when a mother or father called on their daughter's apartment, rang the doorbell, and upon obtaining no response after several tries, contacted the building custodian to open the door.
"Among the factors related to solitary deaths among younger people is the increase in 'freeters,' people who work on contract, or who are employed as temp-help workers," says Dokkyo University Prof Yasuhiro Yuuki. "Even if they fail to show up at work for several days in a row, the employer might not concern itself. And since those employers already show little concern over non-regular workers who can't do their jobs due to poor physical condition, it's hard for them to care if they die.
"Another thing is that the number of adults who were the only child in their family has been increasing, and such people are used to being alone," adds Yuuki, who is author of the 2014 non-fiction work "The Reality of Solitary Death" (Kodansha). "Other young people are content with superficial relationships. They are poor at communicating and it's not unusual to see more young people who have difficulty to convey their feelings or seek out assistance from others. Things might begin with their having trouble making rent payments, leading to a poor diet and then even when this leads to a deterioration of their health, they don't say anything to their friends, let alone family members."
People who lack steady employment and income are also less likely to seek medical attention. Yuuki warns parents that when conversing with offspring who are employed as a "freeter," if they never raise the subject of "friends," this should alert them that their child may be in a high-risk group for solitary death.© Japan Today