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Young people dying alone a growing concern

19 Comments

"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

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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The underlying theme here is "hurry up and get yourself married and make babies" or THIS is what is going to happen to YOU!

15 ( +21 / -6 )

I've been single for the past twenty years, and I live alone. I had a heart attack five years ago and it was only when a friend dropped by the day after it happened, and reminded me of the closeness of ache in my chest that his father had died of a similar problem that I realized that I, indeed, will die alone. So, what's the big deal?

I've volunteered for what in Canada is called hospice - where people in hospital who are dying are well-tended by people like me, who care about their comfort. I've seen too many people die, including members of my family. That's life. And the end of it.

I've also led a good life, contributed to my community and country, helped hundreds, if not a few thousand entrepreneurs learn about what will make them successful, and made myself an example to my small family in ways that should be enough for everyone to be satisfied with my contribution. I've even written my own obituary. We all live, we all die. Get over it, alone or otherwise. Just don't leave a mess.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

Seeking and actively pursuing out neighbours and friends, for the purpose of not dying alone? You could live with 10 people and die on the street or die in your car. Isnt the point to be at peace with your life (like Mr. TrevorPeace)

7 ( +9 / -2 )

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.

This is disturbing as hell, the suggestion that "freeters" who dont talk about friends are a high risk for solitary death, is again, double talk for suicide, not death by natural causes.

Don't sugar-coat it, that helps no one, and making a very real problem look like one that is physically health related, is wrong, in my opinion.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The underlying theme here is "hurry up and get yourself married and make babies" or THIS is what is going to happen to YOU!

No guarantees there either. Lots of people who raised a family still die alone. I think more disturbing than dying alone is the possibility that nobody will miss us until a lot of time passes. That's one good reason to stay involved in something - anything that involves others throughout life.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

very sad,,, I often meet Japanese only children and they are shocked I have 4 brothers and 1 sister. I will never be alone unless I so choose to live as a hermit, although I know some do not get along with even their family.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This article reminded me about a part-time job I had many years ago: to remove the stench of death once or twice a month from houses/apartments throughout Japan . You see the person's whole life rotting along with food left uneaten, walls, books, clothes, thoughts, one or two days of us working in the place and it was like the person never existed. Dying alone is sad. I wish I can live long enough to pass away surrounded by my family or at the very least, in a Care Facility.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I just want to be able to say good bye to those I care about and to tell others some other things before I die.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Ridiculous article.

If you are unfortunate enough to die of cerebral haemorrage in your 30s, being alone would be the least of your worries.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

You are born into the world alone and will leave it alone too.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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.

Ouch. "Be healthy and work hard or else no one will care if you live or die."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You are born into the world alone last I checked humans come from their mothers womb. Unless your mother just dumped you on the side of the road after you were born youre hardly alone.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

koloheJAN. 31, 2017 - 05:30PM JST You are born into the world alone and will leave it alone too.>

Is this your insightful catch phrase, or have you never held a dying persons hand?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Is this your insightful catch phrase, or have you never held a dying persons hand?

Or been present for a birth?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

PerformingMonkey is right - a ridiculous article. If this was about suicides or terminal illnesses then it would be different, but if we're talking people suddenly dropping dead then the alone part is irrelevant. If young people are spending all their time alone, then perhaps that's a problem, but it's also a separate issue.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Obviously this is not promoting having families, since the article opens with the account of an elderly woman who had been dead for three days before her son found out.

This society we have, of individuals, be they older or younger, living in boxes with locks on them, is inevitably going to lead to more and more solitary deaths, more and more people lying undiscovered for days after death.

I have made sure my cat will have enough to eat for several days, so that she doesn't start munching on me before I am found.

I do need to write a will though...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Here in the States I think the worry is more about young people dying from a overdose of illegal drugs. Heroin is, apparently, readily available, and of varying strengths, making it easy to overdose. It is hard for me to understand how people would choose to experiment with heroin, but it is happening, with bad results.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure this is really news. Younger people who are unmarried/not in relationships are likely to live by themselves. They're also far less likely to die suddenly than those over 70. Some will die suddenly, but it's probably going to happen anyway. Living with someone isn't going to change that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I like Japan for quite a few reasons the one thing that still depresses me badly is loneliness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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