Tokyo had the highest number of suicides at 2,146 in 2017. Photo: REUTERS
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No. of suicides in Japan in 2017 drops for 8th consecutive year

26 Comments

The total number of suicides in Japan in 2017 was 21,140, a decrease for the 8th consecutive year, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Police Agency (NPA) on Friday. The number was 757 fewer than in 2016. The number of suicides per 100,000 people dropped to 16.7, the NPA said.

Of those who killed themselves, 14,693 were males and 6,447 females, the NPA said, listing health, financial problems and family issues as the most likely causes.

The age group with the most suicides were people in their 40s (3,416), followed by 50s (3,282) and 60s (3,083). An upward trend was seen among teenagers with 29 more killing themselves than in 2016

By region, the highest number of suicides -- 2,146 -- occurred in Tokyo, followed by Kanagawa Prefecture (1,256) and Osaka Prefecture (1,167), while Tottori Prefecture had the lowest number at 98.

The 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 Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the government aims to reduce the number of suicides further by addressing such issues as excessive working hours, postpartum depression and websites for people with suicidal thoughts, Kyodo reported.

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26 Comments
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I hesitate to say "good news", as the number is still terrifyingly high.

Let's say... not bad...?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

No. of suicides in Japan in 2017 drops for 8th consecutive year

Number of suicides is going to drop because the population is dropping. What is important is to see if it is dropping per capita- that will give us a better assessment of whether or not the RATE of suicide is on the decline.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

In Christian world, suicide is condemned. I do not know why. In Buddhism world, we feel compassion to those who commit suicide. Suicide made him or her free from all the miseries of the world. For some, life is not so desirable thing to be protracted.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

@Schopenhauer, you make good points. I think a reasonable argument is that some (but not all) persons who commit suicide to free themselves of psychological, financial or health problems, can leave behind turmoil in the lives of family and friends, which can be interpreted as selfish. I have personally seen a case where the mother committed suicide and the son has to carry a psychological burden of that into middle age, blaming himself. Of course, escaping from the pain of cancer or something like that seems much more understandable.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What is important is to see if it is dropping per capita

A 3.5% drop in suicides this past year compared to a 0.20% drop in population (I think these figures are correct).

Suicides have dropped by about 40% since 2003, that is quite remarkable progress and the efforts of the people involved should be applauded.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

In Christian world, suicide is condemned. I do not know why.

Because they, Christians believe if they commit suicide then they wouldn't enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and can't be buried on holy ground like the grave area of a Catholic church.

If people are terminally ill then they should be able to end their lives as would be if anyone decides to end their life but it can cause emotional pain for their family and friends.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Aly Rustom - What is important is to see if it is dropping per capita- that will give us a better assessment of whether or not the RATE of suicide is on the decline.

Well, 16.7% per 100,000 is much better than it was, but more can be done. The "per-capita" statistics are concealed within the article. The large jump in teenage suicide does not reflect on population decline. Another cleverly concealed statistic is, 21,140 suicides in 2017 equals nearly 60 suicides every day.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

SchopenhauerToday  04:41 pm JST

In Buddhism world, we feel compassion to those who commit suicide. 

It's a pity more people in Japan and South Korea don't feel compassion to those who are feeling pushed to commit suicide before they do it.

Good on Japan for improving things, but like others have said, there's a lot more work to be done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So many times on this site posters claim about how Japan "does nothing" about suicide, yet here we are, coming up on a decade where the suicide rate has dropped. It's significantly better than it was in the start of the millennium, and keeps getting better.

But just wait until a story about suicide comes out that isn't this one. We'll see that same claim.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

katsu78

You are right. Americans I met before were generally more optimistic about life than Japanese people. I wondered, at that time, where their optimism come from. In Buddhism, suffering is the core of life. While in Christianity, life is a good thing.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I wonder if the blue LED lighting now commonly installed at train stations has had any impact? There was much discussion about these a few years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@clippityclop - Nice work! It's refreshing to see some real journalism!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

SchopenhauerToday  06:35 pm JST

Americans I met before were generally more optimistic about life than Japanese people. I wondered, at that time, where their optimism come from. In Buddhism, suffering is the core of life. While in Christianity, life is a good thing.

This is like a multidimensional over-simplificaton. Impressive, in its way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Because they, Christians believe if they commit suicide then they wouldn't enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and can't be buried on holy ground like the grave area of a Catholic church.

Yes, but religious belief has declined but the attitude to suicide has not changed, a societal view that it is a cowardly way out that leaves the problems for others to deal with as well as adding the guilt/grief over your death has taken its place. It is seen as selfish.

Schopenhauer - You are right. Americans I met before were generally more optimistic about life than Japanese people. I wondered, at that time, where their optimism come from. In Buddhism, suffering is the core of life. While in Christianity, life is a good thing.

Interesting observation, certainly I would have thought an underlying cultural bias would tend to have an additional effect adding to all the other pressures, especially if it is accepted as a valid way out. Which might mitigate against the commendable efforts being made to reduce the suicide rate; changing a whole societies core attitudes is going to be very hard.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is probably the most severe insult of Buddhism I have lived to see. Buddhism, just like any other proper religion or belief, is about self-dignity in the first place (interpret it however you like, of course). The only ones suffering are those enough weak of will to commit selfish acts of sacrilege. Violence inflicted upon oneself, upon the world goes beyond what Buddhism could defend, in its diversity. Those who actually believe that their suicide will not be a sin in Buddhism are either misguided, which many believers around the world are, or are complete hypocrites, which is about as many. Associating Buddhism with suicide rates in Asia is a mere window dressing and ideals defamation.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Being Asia mayit be east or west, shaping history was is where everyone converjers is this too much Duch?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Daniel Naumoff

With one statement you take offense to “severe insults to buddhism” and then you then assume that “foreigners will take over” my country and then finally “cure the ills” that you assume we have?

May I invite you to be polite and respectful yourself, as you are a visitor here. Thank goodness you aren’t taking over anything.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Number of suicides is going to drop because the population is dropping. What is important is to see if it is dropping per capita- that will give us a better assessment of whether or not the RATE of suicide is on the decline.

A small year-on-year decrease in population can't explain a large percentage decrease in suicides.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's difficult to be effective and have a level headed mind when one overworks.  Authorities should study the cost effectiveness of working longer hours.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Nessie - A small year-on-year decrease in population can't explain a large percentage decrease in suicides.

Yes, that is right. However, the decrease in population is happening at the shallow end, with less babies being born, not more old people dying. This means, the large increase in youth suicide should be ringing alarm bells for the authorities.

@econstats - In Japan, someone wrote that there are "nearly 60 suicides every day" the real number is 57,

Yeah, 57 is nearly 60, is it not?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This means, the large increase in youth suicide should be ringing alarm bells for the authorities.

Interesting, I never really thought about the demographic. Seems you are right, and it seems it's happening in a lot of western nations too.

https://wilsonquarterly.com/stories/the-mystery-behind-japans-high-suicide-rates-among-kids/

Wombat!

Haha!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I know of 2 suicides in 2017. One was a second grade High School Boy who hanged himself in his bedroom but the death was recorded as complications due to pneumonia to save the family from the shame of admitting the suicide to outsiders. The other one was a 19 year old University student who hanged himself but the death was recorded as due to heart failure.

I have no idea how common this might be but it does indicate that the suicide figures may not be totally accurate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My opinion is that life is viewed as something to be enjoyed in the west, and life is viewed as something to be endured in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"My opinion is that life is viewed as something to be enjoyed in the west"

yeah right, especially when you are popping pain killers.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well done, that is a massive reduction in suicides, however more can be done

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, 16.7% per 100,000 is much better than it was, but more can be done. The "per-capita" statistics are concealed within the article. The large jump in teenage suicide does not reflect on population decline. Another cleverly concealed statistic is, 21,140 suicides in 2017 equals nearly 60 suicides every day.

Good point

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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