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Suicides in Japan rise in October for 4th straight month

30 Comments

The number of suicides in Japan rose in October for the fourth month in a row to the highest level in more than five years, data showed on Tuesday, a trend activists have blamed on the economic impact of the coronavirus, on women in particular.

According to preliminary police data, the total number of suicides for October was 2,153, an increase of more than 300 from the previous month and the highest monthly tally since May 2015.

Of October's cases, 851 were women, a rise of 82.6% over the same month in 2019. The number of suicides by men rose 21.3%.

Cases of suicide had been falling steadily until July but then the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak hit home and the numbers started rising, activists say.

Women, who are more likely to be in non-permanent employment in the retail or service industries, have been disproportionately affected by job losses.

For many years getting psychological help was stigmatized and Japan has the grim distinction of the highest suicide rate among G7 countries.

But when suicides hit a peak of 34,427 in 2003, alarmed policymakers drew up a comprehensive prevention program launched in 2007.

Through a combination of government and corporate efforts that included identifying at-risk groups, capping overtime and making it easier to get counselling, suicides decreased to just over 20,000 last year.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, click here for more info.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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Tragic.

Anyone considering suicide, please remember that others care about you and you are not alone. For what it’s worth, I do, if for no other reason than you are a fellow human being.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

Randy

Japan has one of the oldest population on planet earth.

If Japan doesn't take the necessary measures we would have an explosion in cases and Deaths, especially among elderly. The highest death rate is for people in their 70s,80s,90s... Japan #1 country in the World with People in their 100 years old.

On another point....

This is the reason why the government needs to pass stimulus and continue to help our citizens in every way possible. Financial reasons for suicide is not every case but 1/3 of them are because of it.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

While this slight increase is most likely an unfortunate consequence of the current crisis, it is time for the japanese government to start taking serious measures towards changing the working culture and mentality in Japan.

It does not make sense a country that exports the most futuristic tech, that keeps having a working mentality of the last century.

It is time to move forward Japan!

This working culture/mentality is the tumor that needs to be removed from this incredible country not to get stuck in the “fax and piles of paper” era.

More flexibility in terms of ideas, continuous and prompt changes/improvements when needed - takes too long for things to change as it requires the “hanko” from several +60/70 year-old usually that should be retired by then, instead of keeping a job that a younger and more energised individual would do better, incentives for employees to take long paid leave, work-life balance, remote working, just to name a few of a long list.

Only once that happens, we can expect the suicide rate to fall significantly, and also start seeing global talent to come live here for the long term, not the usual 2-3 years.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"If Japan doesn't take the necessary measures we would have an explosion in cases and Deaths, especially among elderly. "

You have been saying that for the last 11 months. In fact, Japan now has the lowest death rate 1.6% and the lowest case numbers in the developed world.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

This is not surprising...

Because fear mongering people and fear mongering media sheer that Corona topic to the worst as much as they can.

Instead of giving positiv and optimistic news to the public, we can just read and hear every day fear mongering paranoid news, which are much supported by many fear mongering people.

But luckily we can finally read very good news: A vaccine is coming.

I hope that this news encourage people to go on with their lives.

-4 ( +13 / -17 )

Three things come to mind. #1. In 2003 the stats were already alarming, and it triggered the politicians to draw up a comprehensive plan in 2007. Four years! In 2007 the plan was drawn up, but no mention of when it was actually implemented. It's like closing the barn door after the horses have fled, or too little too late, take your pick. #2. Abenomask is basically what most of the people got; there wasn't the necessary long term emergency economic aid that most women needed to survive. And finally #3. For a country that has a dwindling population because of low birth rate, not protecting the children and the women who bear them is only going down the path of non-relevance and self-extinction.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I stand corrected, the prevention plan was launched in 2007, but four years is still too late for what should be considered an emergency.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

For many years getting psychological help was stigmatized and Japan has the grim distinction of the highest suicide rate among G7 countries.

But when suicides hit a peak of 34,427 in 2003, alarmed policymakers drew up a comprehensive prevention program launched in 2007.

Was stigmatized? Try telling Japanese folks that you've been getting therapy and see how they react. "Oh, is there something wrong with you? Are you sick? Aaah you'll be fine, you don't need therapy, that's for nut cases!"

Japan is gonna need more than a prevention program to dismantle the toxic beliefs the population has towards mental health.

Therapy is awesome, I loved it. Don't be ashamed to go, especially preventively. Take care of yourselves out there everyone.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

@ReasonandWisdomNippon

Japan #1 country in the World with People in their 100 years old

Do not forget the high teen suicide rate as well. Part of the reason for increased suicides is unemployment and bonuses. For many Japanese, they tend to have low salaries with large bonuses. Many places have either not given a bonus or gave a fraction of the amount for bonuses. Bonus payments can be crucial to maintaining normal life for families in Japan. Also, with overtime going up and salaries dropping. People are underpaid and exhausted.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

No wonders Japan has the highest suicide numbers in developed countries,a rigid and strict society which already made the country famous for this and now you can add the Covid brings the numbers in a rise again.

The J-society in general should become more relaxed and reduce the numbers of protocols and formalities that bring so much stress to the adults,and the hyper high competitiveness and pressure brought to teenagers.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Try telling Japanese folks that you've been getting therapy and see how they react. "Oh, is there something wrong with you? Are you sick? Aaah you'll be fine, you don't need therapy, that's for nut cases!"

JPGB, please don't generalize a whole group of people like that based on their race. Mental health awareness is an important part of any country's education - especially Japan, but I've also had expat friends struggling with depression tell me about their experiences of forming support groups with their Japanese friends while visiting therapists.

A lot of expats - including those reading this board - face anxiety over how to approach certain issues with Japanese people, and comments like 'they will all think you're a nut case for visiting therapy' is very unproductive and may scare them from reaching out for help.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The rise among women of over 80% is very alarming. This is as much an emergency as the coronavirus.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@John R My intention is far from discouraging people from talking about mental health. If you read my whole comment, you'll see that I encourage people to go to therapy. I don't know how you came to the conclusion that I discourage talking about mental health.

Of course some people here are able to talk about mental health, but in reality it's still a massive taboo and it's being swept under the rug more often then not. I'm glad the people you mentioned were able to find help. It's there if you're willing to reach out.

That being said, I work at a school for special needs. Most of our kids have suffered some kind of trauma and are dealing with mental health issues. Even in an environment like this, you wouldn't believe the kind of things you'll hear from the mouths of teachers. The majority of them belittle our kids for being different, and they constantly make light of very serious issues. When suicide is brought up, they'll go to any lengths to change the topic or laugh it off. "Haha yeah our kids sure are special." Yeah, and some of them want to die, sensei.

No doubt there are people who are more comfortable discussing mental health amongst Japanese people, but I've seen too much to believe it isn't at LEAST a massive, massive taboo here.

Again, mental health is no joke, it's no reason to feel ashamed, and we all could use a hand from time to time. Seek help.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

According to preliminary police data, the total number of suicides for October was 2,153, an increase of more than 300 from the previous month and the highest monthly tally since May 2015.

Of October's cases, 851 were women, a rise of 82.6% over the same month in 2019. The number of suicides by men rose 21.3%.

This article is not very informative. It would be more meaningful and helpful to us regular folk if the information was broken down to age groups. That way we (and the government) could be able to focus our preventive energies.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Covid fear kills... happy masks wearing...lol

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

JPGB, I was pointing out your generalization that all Japanese people will think you're a "nut case" and ostracize you if you seek help. If the majority of the teachers at your school for special needs is cracking jokes about disabilities and suicide, you need to report that to your principle teacher. Most schools also have anti-bullying committees that have to report things like this to the local school board. If even these people are complicit in laughing at the mental health and suicide of students, I would even approach the PTA. You're working in an extremely toxic environment that puts children at risk and should definitely not be tolerated.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Many are only living in fear of death. They do not have courage to discontinue their meaningless lives. Those who commit suicide are fine people. They decided to terminate their lives by themselves.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

My wife and I sometimes have this discussion centring on the idea that Japanese people somehow enjoy being miserable, or at least prefer it to alternative states of being. Not sure whether it comes from an old Buddhist theme (I think, but please correct me if I'm wrong) about suffering being necessary to get to the next plane of existence. This extends to the nail that sticks up gets hammered down, the crab that tries to crawl out of the bucket gets dragged back down by the others, and any other well worn cliche you can think of.

It's a pretty heavy mental load to bear, and for people who want to pursue their own form of happiness without having to conform to groupthink, it's not surprising that many young people in particular struggle to see a way out. Some were able to head overseas before, but this option is out of the question for now so they're stuck in a society they don't like and have limited employment opportunities to boot.

Not a healthy environment for them.

Yet as others have said, Japan is slowly developing systems to help with mental health, and I certainly encourage anyone feeling depressed and/or anxious or quietly seething to seek therapy, preferably without the medication unless it's a last resort.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

While Japan has a long, long way to go on this issue, the government had brought down the number of suicides by 40 percent between 2003 and 2019, which is pretty substantial even if it's not yet enough. Also, compared to the old days - and I've lived here for 30-some years - people are a lot more open to the idea of counseling and there are more resources, certainly more help lines. Now a lot of places are reaching out on SNS and the net as well. I know somebody who works in a local government where several folks in the office have taken mental health leave, so it's much less of a taboo than it used to be. Obviously efforts need to be further tailored, and the youth suicide problem is sadly seeing no improvement. (Actually, even youth suicides are lower than they were in the mid-1980s). By contrast, the US was seeing a steep rise in its suicide rate even before corona. So, while Japan has a lot more work to do, they've already done a lot.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I just hope that people choose to survive. Life is not really bad or fatal as it looks. Nor is it pre-programmed. The virus crisis, policing and hype won't last forever.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

no news for m.just look around to see society you live in...unique and strange on some way...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It’s not just Japan. Yesterday I listened to podcasts that was discussing the surge in US suicides. I just searched the data they ere discussing

11% of American adults reported seriously considering suicide in June, about double the percentage who did so last summer, a new CDC report finds. 

Rates of suicide ideation were highest among 18- to 24-year-olds (25%) and unpaid caregivers for adults (30%). 

The report also found that the prevalence of symptoms of depression and anxiety quadrupled and tripled, respectively, compared to last year. 

In total, 40% of Americans reported some mental health issue or substance abuse related to the pandemic. 

Seriously disturbing implications for societies around the world. Covid has serious exacerbated the situation.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The oyajis in charge of Japan have little idea what is needed to nurture a young generation.

The failure and resentment to allow youth to create their own futures can be seen in the lack of funding for education, lack of funding for new business and a vast amount of red tape needed to gain permissions and licenses.

I see shop after shop on my local high street opening and then closing due to lack of business-something is severely wrong...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The tragedy of the virus is heavily psychological. The fact that anyone could potentially be a danger to you is going to have some long lasting and debilitating effects on peoples well being. Human touch and contact is an actual biological need. Bring on the vaccine so we can try and get back to our natural state of healthy mutual caring and support, without the Covid spectre on our shoulders. My hope is that when it's all over we will have realised just how much we all need each other and we will be stronger and kinder for it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Anyone considering suicide, please remember that others care about you and you are not alone. For what it’s worth, I do, if for no other reason than you are a fellow human being.

That's the thing, high majority if not all are in the condition that no one cares for them and they are alone, and than there is the Japanese society culture where you will be attacked, if you are jobless, not doing well in your job, financial issues among other conditions.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nothing compared to other countries with serious lockdowns.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Nothing compared to other countries with serious lockdowns.

Cites?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That's the thing, high majority if not all are in the condition that no one cares for them and they are alone, and than there is the Japanese society culture where you will be attacked, if you are jobless, not doing well in your job, financial issues among other conditions.

I hear what you’re saying, though it ain’t exclusive to Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan has allot of people who live very lonely, solitaire lives. Ive seen them, just sitting alone, reading some paper with news all in Japanese, no cable TV or any kind of outside stimulus besides making their dinner, day after day. One guy would sit in the park, from morning to evening for months, smoking and drinking those chu hi. I could never figure out what he was thinking or his purpose in life. No desire to take a trip or start a business, I think that is actually discouraged. I once would visit this niche shop, and the girl there told me that in Japan, all the big stores sell everyday products so Japanese must think about something, that the customer cant find in those big stores, thats the only option for business. Perhaps its why so many study English also, to get some outside entertainment. Its kind of a society issue, self imposed. I like the hustle and life you find elsewhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“For many years getting psychological help was stigmatized”

and still is!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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