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No. of suicides in 2016 drops below 22,000 for first time since 1995

26 Comments

The total number of suicides in Japan in 2016 dropped below 22,000 for the first time since 1995, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Police Agency (NPA) on Friday.

The NPA said that 21,764 people killed themselves in Japan between Jan 1 and Dec 31 last year, a reduction of 2,261 from 2015, and the seventh straight annual decline, Fuji TV reported.

Of those who killed themselves, 15,017 were males and 6,747 females, the NPA said, listing health and financial problems as the most likely causes. The age group with the most suicides were people in their 40s (3,442), followed by 50s (3,345) and 60s (3,323).

By region, the highest number of suicides -- 2,215 -- occurred in Tokyo, followed by Hokkaido, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi and Osaka prefectures, while the lowest suicide numbers were recorded in Akita, Iwate and Wakayama prefectures.

A steady decline began in 2012, slipping under 30,000 for the first time since 1997. The highest number of suicides occurred in 2003 when 34,427 people killed themselves.

The full report will be released in March.

© Japan Today

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26 Comments
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This is desperately sad. 22,000 deaths. How many could perhaps have been prevented if that person had felt able to reach out to a support group, a helpline, a mental health counsellor, a financial advisor, a teacher, a doctor, anyone...?

Suicide is one of the top killers of men in many countries, but is so often overlooked.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wow, that's en enormous drop. I wonder what the reasons are for the long, steady decline? Surely not economic. Attitudes to suicide changing I suppose. Bravo Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Wow! I have the trifecta: male/40's/Tokyo,,,

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The geographical breakdown is meaningless without (for example) incidence per 100,000 population.

That said, a ten percent drop is significant. Well done.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Most of them were on the two train lines I frequent it seems to me. Two weeks ago, my travel was super delayed three times by jumpers.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Well 21,764 people, that's still higher than the number of deaths during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami (~18,000).

The Japanese society continues to kill every year more than the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami did once. I fail to see here any positive outcome....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan is very high on the list of countries, but more disturbing is that most countries that high on the list are all yet to be developed (poor) countries - except for Russia. South Korea is #1 in the developed world. Makes me wonder what is going wrong in this 'free and wealthy' nation. I also have to wonder if the figures are accurate. At any rate, pretty obvious that Japan is letting their own down with this type of info at hand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My opinion (and only an opinion...I'm far from qualified) is that the high suicide rate can be best understood in the context of Japan's highly immobile society - at least in comparison to the Western standards that I grew up with. In Western countries, it is common to change jobs, quit jobs, go back to university at an adult age, get divorced, get remarried, find new friends. However, these "second chances" don't exist as freely in Japan. In the business world, where promotion is often based on length of time spent in a company rather than ability, people can feel "stuck" and unable to make a switch if they're unhappy. People's social circles tend to be closely tied to their company, with pressure to succeed coming from both above and below in the sempai/kohai structure. If you mess up, then not only are you letting all the people immediately around you down, but you're also unable to escape the problem and start over elsewhere. The rigidity of the social structures keeps people "stuck," which is good when you're in a nice situation, but can cause of feeling of hopelessness when you're not.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Makes me wonder what is going wrong in this 'free and wealthy' nation.

Indeed, one can make another interesting comparison. Assuming a lower bound of 20,000 people killing themselves every year (again we know it has been higher than that), during the last ten years, at least 200,000 people killed themselves in Japan.

An estimation put the number of deaths due to the chaos of war and terrorism in Syria at 400,000. So the lower bond above is already half what a terrible chaos has achieved in ~5 years.

Makes you wonder about the so-called Japanese "hewa (平和)" society that Japan is constantly selling to the world as a model of society.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Hopefully the full report will tell us how many ppl attempted suicided or even contemplated killing themselves. The ultimate goal has to be a society where ppl don't even think about killing themselves rather than one where they don't actually die from suicide.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If Japan is a "man's world" (男社会), why are most of the suicides men ? Something tells me ....

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Aging population means less 40 something males.......

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Seven straight years of decline means that the decline began in 2010, before even the earthquake. That's pretty good news.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

While is good to see the numbers dropping from over 30,000 people per year, it's still quite a high number. It's all well and good to divide the statistics into specific demography, but it's imperative to investigate why each sector of society are choosing suicide as a solution. Once they determine the common factors they need to address them. I have no doubt the middle-aged men in Tokyo are suffering from either overwork or a lack of success or both. Some may be jilted lover related as well. On the other hand, the reasons for young people chosing suicide would be very different. Suicide is a common phenomenon all over the world and many countries have taken drastic steps to stop it. I'm sure most people know about the Australian gun buy-back in the early 90's. This was in response to a mass-shooting in Tasmania. However, the unexpected result of the buy-back was, the rural youth suicide rate dropped by 50% in the first year just because they didn't have easy access to guns. Of course, there are few guns in Japan. However, if they determine how most people are killing themselves they should be able to work out how to stop it. The train jumpers are terribly popular and disruptive. The gates on platforms have stopped jumpers at the stations with them, but they have only moved to stations without them. It is also quite possibly that the number of suicides have dropped due to these gates being installed at many stations. It's also likely the awareness campaigns have also helped. Lets hope the J-Gov continues their efforts and the numbers keep dropping.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A reduction of suicide cases could be partily due to classification of the manner of death, misidentified, unsolved, happy to hear it, but.. government stats / grain of salt

3 ( +4 / -1 )

While a reduction is good without the full statistic per 100,000 I can't know what it means. Maybe they're simply running out of the affected demographic per day faster than population replacement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is the number less simply because the total population of Japan is declining?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

5 people every 2 hours. One person every 24 minutes. So who and why over the past two hours?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hit and run negatives...fine...I just wish someone would answer my question.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

bruinfan - Hit and run negatives...fine...I just wish someone would answer my question.

After being an educator in Japan for well over a decade I might have the answer for you. Women always outscore the men by an average of at least 20% in all subjects. Possibly, the answer to your question is, the women are much smarter than the men and are able to resolve their issues mentally, whereas the men resolve them emotionally (by jumping in front of train).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So some European countries (like France) would have same level of suicide rate as Japan ? Nice to hear. I still personally would take this info with a grain of salt since there is no explanation to it, except demography fall. I wish this trend would continue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

there is no explanation to it, except demography fall.

Suicides have fallen about 25% since 2010, but the demography has not fallen nearly that much, so that explanation isn't so likely.

However, the government has been focusing a lot of resources on the suicide problem for years now, and their efforts seem to be paying off.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Actually I believe this makes total mathematical sense and is no cause for celebration.

  1. The population of Japan is shrinking
  2. The high number of previous suicides has diminshed the pool of suicide-prone people, so the remaining population has a statistically lower probability of doing this.

Sorry to add some logic to a tragic topic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow! That averages to 60 per day!!! Surprised they didn't list overwork as one of the "most likely" reasons.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Males are more likely to be breadwinners and subject to higher pressure thus when things get too bad .....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Disillusioned, thanks for the answer. I appreciate it. I still feel in many ways it is not a men's world the way many think (especially those who haven't spent much time in Japan).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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