Japan Today

21,007 suicides reported in Japan in 2021


The number of suicides reported in Japan in 2021 was 21,007, 74 fewer than 2020, a government white paper compiled by the health ministry showed.

According to the white paper, released on Friday, 13,939 men took their own lives, down 116 from the previous year, while 7,068 women committed suicide, up 42 from 2020.

A health ministry official suggested the high rate of suicides among women may be due to their being victims of domestic abuse from partners spending more time at home due to the pandemic, and also to the fact that many women in the hospitality and retail sectors lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. The white paper also pointed out that the number of single men and women living alone had increased, which could be a contributing factor.

The white paper follows the results of a study conducted by a team of researchers between 2020 and 2021, released in August, which also showed a rise in suicides by women, Kyodo News reported. Taisuke Nakata, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, who was one of the researchers, said women, who have more nonregular jobs than men, tend to be more affected economically, while young people are possibly more likely to be forced into isolation due to behavioral restrictions.

If you or someone you know in Japan are having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Click here for more info.

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No mention of LDP policies pushing people into poverty and desperation.

-5 ( +20 / -25 )

No mention of LDP policies pushing people into poverty and desperation.

Easy to point fingers when you can't find any other explanation or reason.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

More than 60 a day? Something is definitely wrong with the culture when so many people kill themselves.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Please remember these numbers are only if they retrieve a body. Thousands of other people go missing every year and could also be presumed dead by suicide in many cases. J police member told me this years ago.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

I have to agree with @TrevorPeace.

Japan has a population 5 times larger than Australia, but a suicide rate 7 times higher than Australia, just as one example.

"About 3,000 Australians end their lives each year – about 8 people a day. Suicide is the third leading cause of premature death from injury or disease, and the main cause of death among people aged 15 to 49.

We lose more people to suicide than die on our roads each year.

It affects all ages, genders and ethnicities."


5 ( +10 / -5 )

"the high rate of suicides among women may be due to..." yet nearly twice as many men commit suicide than women. Where's the explaining for that? Could it be due to the combination of pressures at work and also at home?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

It used to be that more than 30,000 people committed suicide every year. Now fewer people are taking their own lives even under the pandemic induced recession. Have people become less susceptible to hardships?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It was 27,000 in 2012 so, although still quite shocking, 21,000 is definitely headed in the right direction.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@TrevorPeace, the number does sound pretty high if you look at it. But you should see just how bad other nations are doing too. Is not just about the culture. The whole world is suffering for a lot of reasons. The US alone had more than 40k in 2021. Let’s not even mention our neighbors China and South Korea.

is more about the economic pressure and uncertain future that push many over the edge.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Truth and logic are too much for some people to handle.

13,939 men took their own lives

May their souls rest in peace.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Have people become less susceptible to hardships?

Probably a few reasons behind it. Better government support, more openness, lots of online support groups.

There was a bump in the numbers for women and young men after the pandemic hit though*

Also when you look back, the 2000s seem to have been a particularly bad time in Japan.


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It used to be closer to 300 a day. How they got it down I don't know but I'd like to know if the definition of a suicide changed. That's usually effective. I mean it got road accident deaths down.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I was running my own company with no co-workers, 56-hour seven-day weeks to get my kids through private JHS and HS, then college in the US. Sure - yes, I was drinking too much and never faced a night where I didn't have to think about the next day's schedule.

Fortunately, I reached out. I had a frank discussion with my wife. After the kids were on their own and no longer needed my succor, I cut back drastically on both work and beer. Communication with a loved one about one's thoughts and their cause is crucial.

A close Japanese friend of mine, the successor to a once successful business, saw it go bankrupt through a few bad decisions. He killed himself two decades ago, and not a week goes by when I don't think of him. Those who take their loves kill not only themselves - they kill something in the souls of those they've left behind.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Those who take their loves kill not only themselves - they kill something in the souls of those they've left behind.

Very well said.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Rodney - No mention of LDP policies pushing people into poverty and desperation.

Hakman - Which policies? Which specific LDP policies are pushing people into poverty and desperation?

Yubaru - Easy to point fingers when you can't find any other explanation or reason.

I think most mental health experts, as well as most JT readers, would say that economic hardship is a major contributor to the emotional state that drives one to suicide.

I also think that most financial experts, as well as most JT readers, would agree that "Abenomics" was a failure, leaving many citizens and residents in financial difficulties.

Specific policies need not be pointed out. Just the general failure of Abenomics, the LDP's economic platform for many years, is all that needs mentioning.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I see that all the experts have showed up to cast blame and explain the findings to all of us...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Hiro, the US has three times the population of Japan. The ratio doesn't match.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What's the age ranges of these suicides? This will be more shocking I think.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What ever the population of a country, one thousand annual suicides is already a lot of suicides but, in 2021 twenty one thousand suicides is an astonishingly unbelievable figure in a small country like Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It used to be very high compare to other countries but not anymore. For example per 100,000 Japan, US,Canada , Australian , India, and Scandinavia countries are all in the 10-15 range. A lot has been made to make it more acceptable to seek mental health help.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We need to rediscover the Science of connection. Talk to everyone like they are already your friends people. You never know how much that can mean to someone struggling and lonely. Be the ray of hope to your community. This is the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


@Hiro, the US has three times the population of Japan. The ratio doesn't match.

A good news is that the suicide rate in Japan has been declining. A bad news is that it is increasing in USA.

Suicide Rate in History: Japan vs USA (Per 100,000 population)

2009: 24.9 vs 12.8

2010: 24.1 vs 13.1

2011: 23.4 vs 13.4

2012: 21.6 vs 13.5

2013: 21.4 vs 13.5

2014: 20.1 vs 14.0

2015: 19.1 vs 14.4

2016: 17.5 vs 15.1

2017: 17.0 vs 15.9

2018: 16.7 vs 15.7

2019: 15.3 vs 16.1



Suicide Rate World Ranking (Per 100,000 Population)

01 Lesotho  72.4

02 Guyana  40.3

03 Eswatini  29.4

04 South Korea  28.6

05 Kiribati 28.3

06 Micronesia 28.2

07 Lithuania 26.0

08 Suriname 25.4

09 Russia 25.1

10 South Africa 23.5

17 Belgium 18.3

23 United States 16.1

25 Japan 15.3

26 Finland 15.3

28 Sweden 14.7

31 Austria 14.6

33 Switzerland 14.5

36 France 13.8

38 India 12.7

40 Australia 12.5

41 Germany 12.3


3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Laguna, thanks for sharing your story. Glad to see that you got through it and are in good shape.

Sorry for asking, but during that time did you ever think about doing it?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

According to the white paper, released on Friday, 13,939 men took their own lives, ..........while 7,068 women committed suicide. A health ministry official suggested the high rate of suicides among women........

Accordingly then, since there are TWICE as many men doing it, the male rate is ASTRONOMICAL. And as progress is made on implementing SDG Goal #5 (female empowerment), the adjective will increasingly apply to a female suicide rate that will skyrocket in tandem with availing women of the opportunity to share with males the same pressure cooker existence that underpins their high propensity to take their own life.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

People force to conform to others is a recipe for being miserable,this is probably the problem in Japan, people not being able to persue the life,they want to live will drive any mad

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

socrateos - I appreciate data and the source. I'm seeing different data and have provided the source below. So, whenever someone provides statistics in a story, I want to see how that compares in around the world.

https://ourworldindata.org/suicide 2019 data.

Japan is higher in suicides than the US even with all those firearm suicides there. Canada has about the same rates as the US, just tiny, tiny, bit lower.

But, the former members of the USSR suicide rates are about 2x what they are in Japan. The 7-stans, Russia, Ukraine are high. Belarus isn't like the other USSR members, though still higher than Japan.

The US CDC data says there were 46,000 in 2020 - well, 45979, but I'll round up to make napkin math easier. 331,893,745 was the population of the US on 1/1/2021. That gives us a 13.86 in 100,000 US suicide rate. So ... 16.1 in 100K is high and 11.67 in my 100K from my source is low. Odd how that works out. So, the question is what is their source of data? The CDC and US Census are my data sources. I believe them to be the most accurate available.

When someone wants to suicide, they will find a way. They use the stuff that is available.

Anyway, interesting data broken down in many different ways. I'm not sure all the data gathered is correct. There is bias in all data, since there does appear to be some cultural trends in the very low suicide rate data - the data for Muslim-majority countries and China are almost too low to believe. That could be cultural in Muslim countries. No need to wonder about China - all their data is suspect since a CCP party member makes it up - heck, they make up temperatures outside which everyone can clearly check for themselves, so why believe any other population data?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Depressing any way you comprehend it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ah ... my calculation is for 2020, not 2019 like the https://ourworldindata.org/suicide 2019 data.

47,511 suicides in 2019. 328,239,523 was the US population. Results in a 2019 US Suicide rate of 14.47 in 100K people. My data sources were the CDC and US Census again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Of course economic hardship can be fully excluded as a reason, otherwise whole other poorer continents or countries would already have become depopulated completely. I think it’s more a very individual issue and kind of private mental disorder that should be considered to be responsible for someone’s suicide. If you in general value all life , that of others and of course your own, have developed or in case of unforeseen incidents newly set another goal for life, are able to find enjoyable moments in smaller things or something that doesn’t cost much money etc, then you are most probably immune to suicidal thoughts or attempts. Life is ultra rare in the universe and therefore it should be taught already at schools that it is of very high value, including and especially own life of course. You all are really very very special, an extraordinarily gifted and rare exception compared to all those many uncountable but dead stars and planets. So just keep and value that enormous elite status for you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The article talks about a white paper. Where's the link to it so we can skip the "journalist interpretation"?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why is the taking of one's own life considered a crime? How can a successful suicide be punished? By indignity to his or her dead body? And how can an unsuccessful suicide be punished? The suicider's decision to kill himself or herself was taken because he or she could not stand its suffering any more. And is the state going to punish him or her still more?" By imprisonment? Has the state no compassion?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sorry for asking, but during that time did you ever think about doing it?

ClippityClop - Oh, yes. I had conceived of several different ways. The most likely was to leap off the stairwell of the 12-story mansion next to my house (leaping off the roof of my house I wrote off as that would likely just have injured, not killed, me). I shudder when I remember those thoughts now and thank God that they do not reoccur.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I can understand, why someone would want to commit suicide - especially when faced with a real "No way out situation".

Many people will say, "Pick yourself up, get a job, pull yourself together man, it's not that bad - you can always do ....such and such", though in reality sometimes you can't, and even talking to someone on the end of a phoneline can just make matters worse - It really depends upon the person involved - Sometimes, a person says that they want to commit suicide, simply in order to draw attention to themselves - in which case talking to another, may, help; some others, however are really committed, and have either tried before & failed, so no matter of talking to them will help - however common to both is "Depression", which if you suffer from it, (temporarily or permanently), can be really depressing - both Personally and Socially. I say Socially, since talking to a "friend" that you are depressed, or even suicidal, can simply make matters worse - you become a problem for them, someone they no longer want as a friend - since your depression could drag them down too into a spiral of self-doubt, and woes for themselves, so you loose a friend, thus making everything even more miserable for yourself, that is a realistic fear for why not to share your feelings.

For those who actually go ahead with it, I don't view it as Cowardice, indeed in someway's it's a final act of bravery, since if you think about the actual act of committing Suicide, very few are painless - Mentally - such as watching your wrists bleed blood out in the sink, or physically when you hit a solid object at speed - such as the ground or a moving train, or when you hang yourself - a slow asphyxiation with no way of getting out.

Those more considerate towards others, will commit suicide out of sight - one popular choice in Japan, appears to be charcoal burning - resulting in Carbon Monoxide poisoning. For those with Family, however, they need to consider - should they have one, their Life Insurance Policy - which is usually invalidated if they commit suicide - therefore it has to be made look like an accident.... a tricky one to pull of, but, one that can be done, so I suspect the statistics being reported don't tell the full picture, and we only hear of the "suicide" cases in the news - which means they failed in that respect.

Is there any solution ?

Mental Health resources in Japan are not covered by the National Medial Insurance Scheme - as Mental Health is not considered a "Medical issue" - so perhaps, that may be a place to start.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Suicide is tragic for everyone touched by it but know they do it as they can't see any other option and just need life to end. They are at a depth of pain few will ever reach.

From someone who's worked with homeless teenagers and once found one hung.

Suicidal thoughts helpline would have been nice JT.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please read the last sentence.

Japanese Women are beautiful, their men are brave, they have an amazing culture, language and food.

Japanese people live longer on average than most, the country has some of the best technology in the world. I would like to see you all cuddle each other much more and making the most of life, Be kind to each other, just reach out and talk. I’ve known some amazing Japanese people, who’ve had really developed senses of humor and were very warm people to be around. If things get bad, just come to New Zealand and do some bungie jumping, skiing and surfing, do things that give you a rush, and are survivable rather than dwell on the past or things you can’t change, but please avoid our wines they really do kind of sux, don’t tell us that tho. just smile with that typical reserved composure and be Japanese.

Forget about worries, because things always change for the better when you learn to Love your precious life. Learning to be present in this very moment is like a refuge from emotional pain. that’s where your real life is, right here right now. not what you think about it. Feel every breath and every tear and your Heart will become Warm, bright as a Star. Feel that reality, that of being free like a child running in the wind, riding on the waves, resting like a blossoming tree. See your true nature, pure, complete, whole. Rest your being in the thoughts of those you have received Love from, You would not have existed without it being true. You have the power to create your reality and be a light to other beings in this life, these are your brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, Friends, Mothers, Fathers and Old wise ones. Trust Your Heart, ground it in the present moment, feeling your own breath is more vital, and far more important than any desirable thing, even silver or diamonds, let the world’s temporary pain pass from your heart like sand running through your fingers as you surround yourself with living things, growing them and nurturing them, you really do become them, letting your mind step into the relational field you were always part of and can never be seperate from. Bloom like a precious flower. roots deep in the Earth and reaching high into the heavens.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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