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What can be done to stem the suicide rate in Japan, which surpasses 30,000 each year?

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Its possible to do something about it but don't know what, But you can't force them not to suicide...its their own will.

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Hmm, lets see... how about fundamentally change the way Japanese society works? No more bullying (at all stages in life), no more brutal suppression of people showing even a hint of individuality, no more group-think, no more slave-like work environment, no more culture of "shame" in general, no more pretending that problems don't exist... the list goes on. My impression of Japanese society so far is that there is a very little tolerance for people who "fail" (or dont live up to society/family expectations) and there is almost no social safety nets. Because of this, the individuals who are ostracized from their various groups feel like they have nothing to live for and, as a consequence, take their own life. There are certainly benefits to the way Japanese society is setup (and frankly, as an outsider it is not always appropriate to criticize), but I think that on a societal level, Japanese people have little compassion for their fellow human beings (especially those in need).

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hmm, after re-reading my post I sound like an ass. I apologize to Japanese on this forum. This is a complex issue and I'm sure that I am way off on some of these points. It does seem strange thought that worlds 2nd largest economy does very little in terms of charity, both internationally and at home. I dont know though, would love to hear what actual Japanese here think about the issue.

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Elephunk: I thought your post was well balanced and accurate. You showed sensitivity but hit the nail on the head, so to speak. As a recipient of the ostracizing that is used in Japan as social control, I can tell you first hand its powerful effects. One's only choice is to conform with a forced smile on your face, a quick "hai," scurry to everything you do, and keep that "shigatenai" attitude. As a foreigner, at least I can wake myself up from the haze and say "f this." But you assessment is accurate and wasn't cruel as some posters are. I think many Japanese would also agree is they were honest or felt safe expressing their true feelings. Shigatenai.

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Free alcohol for everyone

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Put fences all over the train stations, more holidays, eliminate over time. People need to relax here.

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You could start at home with a little TLC,kids love a big hug now and then.

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Create a suicide prevention program and hotlines all over the country, especially in schools.

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Make it illegal. Seems to work in the USA. The law-abiding Japanese will surely stop when it's against the law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

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How about giving people a second chance? I find that the Japanese society is quite cold and merciless towards people who failed or did a mistake. If you mess up once, your reputation is gone forever. Game over. That must create a constant fear and pressure to perform well in people.

Secondly, it seems that Japanese media loves to indulge in the past. There are plenty of heroic drama series on TV praising ancient Japanese values. You would see samurai committing suicide to save their honor, etc. - I'm not sure, but is there a real public debate about social topics like this? Hard to believe, given that all you see on TV is food and silly clowns.

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Less bowing, more hugging.

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Here is an idea. you could DO SOMETHING. something. anything. just do something. Blue lights don't count. Work less!!!! Have some fun once your life!!! figure out what love means. If you are in a crappy marriage get a divorce (I can't believe I sad that, but after reading that most wives want there husband dead, I think divorce would be a better choice) Actually use you vacation days. Most importantly though seriously. Just have some fun once in your life. Beer, Coffee, and cigarettes can not be the highlight of your day. You need to find something a little better.

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Criminalizing suicide does not lower the suicide rate, it merely covers the problem - in nations with criminalized suicide, police routinely class cause of death as "misadventure", "accidental overdose" and so forth to avoid a charge of suicide, especially in cases where a family will be denied insurance or pension benefits. As a result, actual suicide rates in nations where it is criminalized tend to be significantly higher.

This is not an exclusively Japanese problem - it is a global problem, and the worst affected are males between 18 and 45. The social stresses that men of this age group face are not unique to Japan, nor is the stigma of mental illness.

Japan - along with most of the rest of the world - tends to ignore mens health issues in general. Mens mental health issues are rarely even spoken about, and when they are, they are often treated as a joke. Worse than that, even the idea that there is an unfair discrepancy in funding between funding between male and female mental health programs tends to be met with derision.

As to solving the problem, as with any social problem it can't be solved with simple legislation. In Japan, maybe companies could start a program similar to the metabo eradication program from a couple of years ago (My company has been paying my gym membership since our doctor told me to lose 5kg). Perhaps something similar directed at mental health problems would be helpful in getting the underlying problem some degree of social acceptance.

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Change the Japanese psyche to allow them to not feel obligated to rot at work (even when there is no work to do) for ridiculous amounts of hours. Instead, advertise spending more time with family and friends / having hobbies that relieve stress & promote happiness.

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It's not an easy question to answer. Physical or legal barriers won't do any good, because a person who is decided to do commit suicide will do it anyway. IMO, what should be done is the impossible: an overhaul in the whole Japanese way of caring for one another, among other steps. Hard question because people take their own lives in every country, rich or poor, healthy or sick, and Japan is not a special case. Even in Denmark, the country with the happiest population there is a signficant number of suicides.

It's a personal battle, I think.

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Well Japanese companies could start by giving their employees a decent salary and more vacation time. A lot of family problems seem to stem from financial woes. Less worry about penny pinching and more time to actually enjoy life would relieve a lot of tension in this country. If you ever just sit in a cafe in Tokyo and watch people walk down the street, you can see the tension in their eyes and body language.

Also if Japanese people could (and should) learn to make themselves more accessible. Everyone is walking around with an invisible barrier and don't seem to want (or know how) to meet new people. Try just saying hello to someone on the street or just a simple smile is often rewarded with a scowl in Japan (unless you get away from largely populated cities).

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Work to live, instead of living to work. Most middle-aged J-guys, and they are the group most likely to commit suicide, have virtually their entire identities tied up in their work. They have no balance between what they are, and who they are. So, if something goes bad at work, they have little or no self-esteem to fall back on. They need to stop believing that lack of success at work makes them a "bad" person.

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a smaller population should stem the wave of 30,000 suicides per year but thats about it.

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Oh and quit paying out life insurance for suicides.

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Stop raising kids according to the 'Tanin-sama no me' 他人様の目 (Other people are watching you) philosophy. It puts you under too much pressure on them to conform and succeed. Let people off when they make a mistake. Stop pretending that problems don't exist (見て見ぬ振り) - get involved with people who look stressed rather than ignoring them in case you become personally involved.

Basically - Give each other a break.

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Elephunk: Well said.

Lose the 'shoganai' attitude--People need to feel empowered and feel that they can change things in their life. It's this feeling of helplessness that leads to suicide.

Change the education system--Stop brainwashing young inquisitive minds into thinking there is only one right way to live.

Lose all the unnecessary obligations--Let people do things because they want to, out of the goodness of their hearts; not because they have to.

Change the way kids are brought up--Parents should be giving their children lots of affection and spending lots of quality time together.

Lose the shame--This feeling is just a waste of energy. If you screw up, take responsibility for it and then move on. It's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

Change the way people relate to each other--People should be able to speak openly and honestly about what they think and feel. It's okay to ask for help when you need it.

Lose the attitude that there is something honorable in taking one's own life-- It's not honorable at all. It's a selfish act in which you leave all your loved ones behind in a horrible state of grief.

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My method to stop suicide is simple, but probably more effective than blue lights. I would give everyone in Japan a kitten. It wouldn't help everyone, sure, but I think if more people had pets they would be less stressed, happier, and would have a reason to live. If you're about to dive off the tracks, wondering who'll take care of Tora when you're gone may give you second thoughts.

I say kittens because cats can handle being left alone for a long time, but any other animal that can handle that would be fine.

Of course, this would require that apartments allow for pets. Which most don't. And they should.

There are lots of other things that could change to fix this problem, but I figure we should start small.

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Investigate every suicide as a homicide, and dont close the investigation until its solved. Punish the instigators. Create an independent system of justice in Japan where crimes against people are investigated and solved equally. Make a revolution. Its a little known fact, that Japanese doctors prescribe massive amounts of antidepressants and anti anxiety medicine to the population, they give it out like candy. This is one of the most unhappy and drugged up cultures and its only getting worse. Instead of dosing people with medicine, fix the social problems and injustices.

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I believe the cause of some suicides in Japan is because some people don't have hope and suicide is the easiest and fastest way to escape from pain or whatever they are going through. Bully leads to suicide.

The attitude and behavior of the majority of the Japanese people should be suicide is wrong to begin with. Life is precious and live it to the fullest with its ups and downs. In order to curb suicides, there should be open talks and forums in vicinity like schools, in local halls, and sponsored from businesses and non-profit organizations on suicide.

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social welfare system in place. new zealand has a good system for this..

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Blow up the graveyards! Or at least make them more frendly or family orientated. You know talking about love and relationships that make for real framilies and not just generations. Ge-ge-ge just doesnt do the trick anymore. It is a little Minshuto, or social. That realization would make a big step. Bets?

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Simple... Implement a mental health care system. I agree with many posts. Government should bankroll a program to get more students into the field. Send them overseas. Establish a modern health care system (meds). Learn about depression and alcoholism. I swear... the mobile phone caused a major blow in this society and well as the Internet. Zombieland needs a wake up call. Please fwd my post to DIET and oh and legalize marijuana too..

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get rid of the "hoshounin" (guarantor) system.

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my 2sense says they already do send students to study on people overseas....terrible because they often dont realize the law of the land and send the overseas mental health situations into frankenstein affairs

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Mary Jane!

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Jesus.

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Nothing but love baby! Only love Will do. Let's love each other like we have never loved before.

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Bong hits for all! I still haven't come across a problem that a good ol' spliff won't handle. Why should this be any different? It's safer than all those antidepressants they dole out like breath mints.

Also I agree with Proffesor, ELE (Everybody Love Everybody). I'm going to say "I love you man" to 5 people on my way to work tomorrow. I suggest you all do the same. Man I sound like a hippie.

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.___.; Saying "I love you man" to random strangers is freaky, useless and an empty gesture. People need real "love" not just the word. I realize I may only speak from my own cultural standpoint, but after years of watching Japan around me I think what is needed in Japan is sincerity. Japanese people are encouraged to avoid being a nuisance to others (mendokusai), to avoid speaking their mind to others, even family and friends (erasouna hito; urusai), and to keep their problems hidden because having any problems of a personal nature is seen as weakness (which in turn is regarded as short from being a disgrace). If people were more free to communicate their problems and talk about it to a caring person in order to find solutions, people would overcome most difficulties. However in Japan people bottle up, till their stress and hidden feelings explode in someone's face and innocents get hurt or killed. Mental health is relegated to the back room; mental problems are shameful and taboo in Japan with the consequence that ill people do not seek help. Even psychiatrists here avoid talking about the problems themselves (the culture doesn't allow it) and try to solve everything with pills instead of using psychological exercises for example, or dialectic methods. In summary, it is as if the whole of society as a structure was engineered to suppress and suffocate personal feelings. Only "collective" feelings matter (wareware nihonjin, nijonjin ha, waga kuni and so on) which is the social face; the tatemae. As long as the front is okay, the back can be in disarray (saying daijoubu when actually they are not alright at all). This must change somehow. How can someone love another without speaking their mind and hearing back sincerity and truth? Saying "I love you" without substance achieves nothing.

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wipe out all the wrongs in society and start from scratch with a fresh mind. That'll be the day.

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force people to learn a musical instrument, then jam on Fridays.

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What can be done to stem the suicide rate in Japan, which surpasses 30,000 each year?

stop keeping count

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Fight depression brought on by health, wealth & social woes. To protect my loved ones, I give tasty and healthy food, a hot bath, comfy bedding, and cuddly pets. These do sooth away the day's mental and physical hurt.

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Loosening up the rigid rules of society in Japan. Rules:

Follow the same direction as other people do. Reputation and image are at stake, don't do anything else.
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Free and easy to access mental health care that cares about the people. Support networks for families of people with mental health issues. Remove the stigma of mental health illnesses in Japanese society. Better social welfare programs to help the unemployed get training and find jobs. Focus the education system on producing functioning young adults with job skills (instead of mindless robots programmed to pass entrance exams). and oh yeah, legalizing weed would sure help in helping people chilling out (not to mention the secondary effect of stimulating the sales of munchies at combinis across the country!)

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Start up around 100 kibbutz, where people have a chance at life and can work and still be free from the terror of homelessness if they happen to fall through the cracks, which happens to almost all of us. I lived on one for a year and it was quite pleasant.

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I say legalize marijuana. People will chill...

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Put blue lights everywhere of course.

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These are just my top 10. (1) Institute maximum working hours legislation with penalties for employers who exceed the maximum working hours. People working themselves to death simply isn't on. Whistle-blowing should be anonymous and legally protected with severe penalties for companies who try to intimidate or discourage employees from reporting (I'm thinking that since overwork results in death that the directors of companies discouraging people from reporting overwork should be charged with attempted murder). (2) Sleep education. From their teenage years the Japanese sleep too little and research has conclusively shown that less than 6 hours of sleep a night doubles the risk of depression. I know a lot of people who grab 3 or 4 hours a night and consider themselves "well rested". It's ridiculous. (3) Present does not equal productive. Most Japanese workplaces equate presence with productivity. This simply isn't so. There are many occupations where tele-commuting could be an option, and it would be a win-win situation for everyone. Companies could reduce office space, employees could reduce travel expenses, the government could reduce pollution and the load on public transportation. Most importantly businessmen in big cities could cut out their stressful 2 hour commutes. (4) Include psychologists as part of the mental health system, along with proper training and cover from national health. Make a follow-up visit to a psychologist mandatory if a psychiatrist identifies a problem that is sufficient to require medication, or in the psychiatrist's opinion would benefit from counseling. (5) Institute mandatory workplace counseling at least once a year for all employees. Give employees a chance to express themselves with a counselor who isn't allied to the workplace or management, and then the counselor or psychologist can report back to management and government on the key issues that need to be addressed in order to reduce worker stress (and consequent suicides). (6) Lectures on work/life balance at school. Correction: Lectures that focus on working to live rather than living to work. (7) Financial penalties for companies with carrying excessive leave balances. In financial terms leave has a cost, each day costing the employee's salary divided by 20 (average of 20 working days per month), and "allowance for leave" must appear in the company's financial statements as a potential expense. Disallow this item as a deduction in the financial statements (hence removing the tax incentive for employees to have huge unused leave balances), and furthermore penalise it in tax terms, thus encouraging employers to discourage employees from accumulating too much leave. In effect this would make employees taking leave a tax advantage, rather than the opposite situation which is currently true. (8) Apply light therapy correctly. Whoever came up with the blue light idea has apparently misunderstood light therapy. Just putting in a blue light in an area surrounded by gray concrete isn't going to do a darned thing. Repaint workplaces and install bulbs with a soft blue tint (not bright blue). Exposure at train stations is too short a time, and the environment as a whole is incorrect, but in a correctly painted workplace, all day, every day, it would have some effect. (9) Re-vamp the education system. Placing 15-year-olds (who are at a critical developmental stage) under the stress of Senior High School entrance examinations is not desirable. Their hormones are hopping at that age and it places a lot of stress on brains that are already unbalanced, and encourages bad life habits like studying until 2am and sleeping 4 hours a night. This is just 1 of many changes that are needed. (10) Finally you can stop the hypocrisy surrounding private/public. People will ignore someone who's obviously upset and hurting because they "don't want to intrude", but will mercilessly grill you about your sex life, penis size, whether your wife is pregnant yet, etc. The truth is that people who are hurting are ignored because they don't want to know, not because they have any respect for the person's privacy. Likewise the individual who's upset is encouraged not to "burden" others with their problems. That's not how society works. People are there to support and help other people. This hypocrisy isn't universal, nor is it limited to Japan, but it is prevalent enough to merit attention.

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@ Azrael: I think your post is as close to it as one can get, right at the heart. The rest is bandaids.

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Government should implement a lower maximum of working hours and enforce strictly Make taking holidays an essential prerequisite for a healthier life More support for mental health issues rather than sweeping the whole thing under a destructive self-defeating carpet of ignorance and fear Get rid of this foolish idea of shame that pervades everything
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"Put blue lights everywhere of course"

Say, is there any evidence that has helped at all in the places they've installed them?

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Show T.V adds or RADIO commercials on how important life is.In everything there is hope.

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