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Number of suicides among Japanese jumps in August

37 Comments
By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Nowadays, everything is uncertain, and that can be a significant cause of stress for a lot of people. Lost jobs and lessened hours, lifestyle changes, money stress, and maintaining distance from loved ones will have many experiencing significant levels of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, this has led to too many people taking their own lives, and may have actually contributed to a spike in suicides last month.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, in August alone, 1,849 people committed suicide across Japan, 15.3 percent more people than the same time last year. Of that increase, the majority were women; 186 more women across the country committed suicide compared to last year, along with 60 more men.

Tokyo experienced the highest numbers of suicides, at 119 people–along with the highest increase of 65–but Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, all Tokyo-neighboring prefectures, also recorded numbers over 100. Aichi Prefecture, home of Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan, experienced significant increases, too.

The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare is taking these numbers very seriously, especially since the lowest number of suicides ever was recorded last year. They’ve elected to consider analyzing whether or not the state of the pandemic is the cause for this increase, and have also urged individuals to take advantage of consultation services that are available.

If you are suffering from depression and are experiencing thoughts of suicide while living in Japan, know that you are not alone, and there is help available, even in English. For example, TELL is an organization that offers free phone and chat counseling for the international community in Japan, as well as professional face-to-face and distance counseling, all in English. Check out their website for more information.

With all the trials and tribulations 2020 is throwing at us, it’s never been more important to reach out to friends and family to check on how they are coping with the changes happening in society today. You never know who might be hurting on the inside, and it doesn’t hurt to check in on the people you love!

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

Source: NHK News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan’s suicide number drops for eighth straight year, rises among teens

-- Unexpected Japan suicide facts are equal parts depressing and uplifting

-- Is Pokémon Go helping prevent deaths at one of Japan’s most notorious suicide spots?

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Lockdowns have consequences.

-9 ( +11 / -20 )

Burning Bush: I’m not sure if you live here or not but Japan never had a lockdown.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Not officially, but then what was that 100 days when I felt it best to not leave my home? Sure felt like a lockdown to me. I'm in Tokyo.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Hi Patricia; I understand your point. There were a few days I did not want to leave and those 100 days were days were days you chose not to leave. I am not saying you made the wrong decision however there was no forced lockdown here.

At no time during this pandemic was I locked down here and there were days I could take my bike out for a ride or go to a park and not face a fine or be charged with a crime.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Telework from home, it's sound convenient until people know that they have to stay during officer hour and after in just small apartment space.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Summer is an awful, depressing season in most of Japan. That combined with the COVID impact was too much for a lot of people. I always ask my clients to lessen my workload that time of year if I haven't managed to flee the country. The fatigue, discomfort and frayed nerves just ain't worth it.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Many locked down “voluntarily” out of fear.

Fear that was exacerbated by the media constantly drumming the Covid doom and gloom message.

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

@ Burning Bush

Yeah maybe but seeing as this article is about Japan's #s and there was no lockdown in Japan I'm not sure how your comment relates.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

However, a large number of companies have laid off workers due to the pandemic.

There was and is an economic impact that the government here attempted to cover by a derisory, one-time payment of 100,000 yen.

Many just couldn’t get by...

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Kurisupisu: I believe what you say may be closer to the truth.

I saw on the news (not NHK) a couple of nights ago that people in Japan are now being evicted from their homes due to the inability to pay their mortgage. It was pretty sad as there were families with literally no place to go.

When my daughter in the U.S. was laid off her job she was getting US $600/week which went on for over 4 months (that may pose other long term issues for the U.S. as a nation).

These are very difficult times and regardless of how people feel it is recognized that things need to restart or the long term financial impacts will far exceed the virus' death toll. Brad Pitt's character said at the end of the movie the Big Short that for every 0.25% drop in the GDP there are 100's of thousands of deaths attributed to such a fall (something to that effect). It is not far from the truth.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Burning Bush:

Fear that was exacerbated by the media constantly drumming the Covid doom and gloom message.

Exactly. The media has a heavy responsibility!

Invalid CSRF - Still not fixed!

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Lay the blame squarely on the government's corporate bailout heavy response to the pandemic, leaving many working Japanese economically out in the cold during the summer.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yeah maybe but seeing as this article is about Japan's #s and there was no lockdown in Japan I'm not sure how your comment relates.

Japanoob-

it usually doesn't

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Berti, Burning Bush

I absolutely agree!

The media has to be blamed. The biggest fear mongering institutions, which are just looking for more clicks and viewers.

Yes, there was no forced lockdown in Japan, but because of the media ultraparanoia and fear mongering news, people locked themselves up volunteer, because they got scared from the news.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

The age demographics are important for these results. Why are they absent?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Economic situation of the Japanese families worsened. The outcome is simple, especially in the country where silently you are labeled loser if you can't provide for family.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No, there was no "lockdown" per se, but many people lost their jobs and basically had to stay in their apartment and wonder where they would get the money to pay for rent, food, and smartphone bill. Its not like people went out job hunting or went exploring outside in the hot summer months. So, I'm not surprised suicides went way up, especially among those people who were already feeling depressed. Even without Covid-19, things in Japan aren't looking that rosey.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, in August alone, 1,849 people committed suicide across Japan, 15.3 percent more people than the same time last year.

Sounds like the medicine is worse than coronavirus. There is/was actually a socially enforced lockdown in Tokyo. In March for example, there were do-gooders at parks and stations taking pictures of persons who dared to go out. Also, police were patrolling in larger numbers than usual and I was stopped one evening (first time in 15 years) and questioned what I was doing out. This certainly encourages me to stay out of public. So social isolation is real.

In addition, if you work in tourism or the service industry you probably experienced a collapse in demand which is extremely unsettling considering the meager social safety net in Japan. Sure, Japan takes care of its big corporations, but that is about it. I am very sorry that so many persons committed suicide.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, in August alone, 1,849 people committed suicide across Japan, 15.3 percent more people than the same time last year. 

This single month figure easily outnumbers the whole corona-related deaths (1,495 since February of this year).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Unsurprisingly it appears everyone cant be saved,( this was obvious in march)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Noriahojanen...... The suicides for August is higher than the total covid-19 death toll. However, if there wasn’t a “lockdown” and other measures taken this may not have been the case. Impossible to know for sure. But shows that the economic and social problems brought on by covid-19 management should also be taken into account.

As a side note.... the covid death toll is still only about 15-20% of last years influenza toll in Japan. The two are different and direct comparisons are not always useful but sometimes good to keep things in perspective.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan now officially enters the Third Lost Decades and Great Japanese Economic Depression.

The Japanese assets bubbles of 1990s

The Great Recession of 2008

The Great Depression of Covid-19.

No wonder why people are killing themselves.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Almost 2,000 Japanese committed suicide in August this year, showing an increase compared to the same time last year. This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon now. Last year, there were 850,000 suicides globally. One suspects it could reach 1,000,000 this year.

For the past decade, Japan has seen a drop of number of suicides annually. There is a likelihood it will rise significantly for year 2020, no thanks to the merciless and torturous Covid outbreak and the continual relentless spread...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A large number of shops and stores closed due to the lockdown. I was surprised to see how many had closed near the west exit of Shinjuku station, a place full of small restaurants and such. Even in Minato-ku, a number of small restaurants and shops closed, and never reopened.

On other parts of the city there were many small projects under construction, mostly the same kinds of small businesses. Two of these were underway in my neighborhood, one is now a parking lot instead of the 6-floor retail and housing unit it was supposed to be, the other is simply a large hole in the ground.

A great many people had invested in projects, counting on continued growth in tourism, and a boom from the Olympics. These people cannot meet their obligations, the assistance from the government cannot replace the potential income of a business.

Many who frequent JT are aware of the severity of bankruptcy laws in Japan, but many probably are not. If you go bankrupt in Japan, you become an outcast, you lose your right to vote, and you cannot be hired as a full time worker.

If you think the suicidal figures from August were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For the past decade, Japan has seen a drop of number of suicides annually. There is a likelihood it will rise significantly for year 2020, no thanks to the merciless and torturous Covid outbreak and the continual relentless spread...

The thing is that Japan saw a drop of 20% in suicides in April. So we'll actually have to wait and see how it pans out. If we're lucky (obviously 0 suicides would be far better) it is only that people postponed their suicide and the numbers keep falling overall like the years before.

This single month figure easily outnumbers the whole corona-related deaths (1,495 since February of this year).

Outnumbers the registered corona-related deaths. In Tokyo from mid February to mid March there were an excess of 50-60 people that died from flu-like ilnesses (including pneumonia) while the cases of influenza in Japan were down by over 60%. Just like in every other country there are likely missed cases and we don't know to which extent. Like Mr Kipling pointed out there may also have been far more deaths without any actions. It will take quite a while until we'll have a general idea of that though. So we'll have to see if the medicine was actually worse than the virus. Also every unnecessary death is bad. Just because more people die because of another reason, we should not try to avoid other things that lead to people's death.

The only thing we really know is that there have been an extra 246 suicides. There is no way of knowing if the overall number would have gone up anyway or if it would have gone down. if there was no corona around In my opinion it is quite likely that there have been many (or even a lot of) cases where the virus and what accompanied it (businesses closing down, people losing their jobs,...) will ultimately be the reason why people made this choice. We don't know how many of those were already contemplating commiting suicide and would have done so in the end anyway for other reasons. Obviously there will also be cases where people considered it before but would not have done it without corona around. The latter and those that have never even considered commiting suicide before corona are the real problem. If there was no corona, those could still be alive. But we don't know how many those are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

in August alone, 1,849 people committed suicide across Japan, 15.3 percent more people than the same time last year.

A large number of shops and stores closed due to the lockdown. I was surprised to see how many had closed near the west exit of Shinjuku station, a place full of small restaurants and such. Even in Minato-ku, a number of small restaurants and shops closed, and never reopened.

At last count there were 1,495 total corona deaths in Japan. Most of those were elderly or people with underlying conditions who would have died soon even without coronavirus. But yeah, let's keep the restrictions on, don't worry about all the deaths and misery caused by the restrictions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This single month figure easily outnumbers the whole corona-related deaths (1,495 since February of this year).

The suicides for August is higher than the total covid-19 death toll. However, if there wasn’t a “lockdown” and other measures taken this may not have been the case. Impossible to know for sure. But shows that the economic and social problems brought on by covid-19 management should also be taken into accounts,

Sounds like the medicine is worse than coronavirus. 

Attributing the total number of suicides to the SARS-CoV-2 response is intellectually dishonest. The total increase in suicide deaths in August compared to last year is 283. That is less than covid-19 death's in the same period (296): https://toyokeizai.net/sp/visual/tko/covid19/en.html. As Mr. Kipling points out, to determine whether the SARS-CoV-2 response was warranted (using the grim, and largely inappropriate, calculus of deaths alone) is impossible, as we can neither determine how many deaths have been prevented, nor how many of those excess suicides are directly attributable to the response. It is conceivable that suicides would be the same, or even higher, in circumstances where there was a significantly higher death rate from the virus, even without media coverage (i.e. grief as a contributing factor to suicide).

As a side note.... the covid death toll is still only about 15-20% of last years influenza toll in Japan. The two are different and direct comparisons are not always useful but sometimes good to keep things in perspective.

Influenza statistics are usually calculated by season, rather than by calendar year. The most recent data is for the 2018-2019 Influenza Season (basically from August 31 2018 - September 1st 2019), which saw approximately 3400 influenza deaths: https://www.niid.go.jp/niid/en/2019-10-04-07-17-22/865-iasr/9288-477te.html. Additionally, where the 2019-2020 influenza season was originally predicted to be one of the worse in recent history, it is now predicted it will see significantly less deaths, due to the coronavirus response also being effective at suppressing influenza: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2764657.

In any event, 1495 is 43% of 3400, and, if we prorate the flu death total to 8 months as we have for covid-19, it is 67%. Finally, as pointed out above, when actual data for flu deaths in the same circumstances as covid-19 deaths is available, I expect it will continue to demonstrate, as the vast majority of the scientific community has continually said, covid-19 is significantly more dangerous that influenza.

Finally, suicide is a complex issue, and has long been a serious problem in Japan. In recent years, Japan has in fact made good progress addressing this, but has a long way to go. Being distracted into blaming the covid-19 response and economic impact of what is largely an unavoidable natural disaster (yes, pandemics happen) is ignoring the primary issue that even last year without those issues, around 1500 people decided they could no longer continuing living. Please don't use that as a way to further your political agendas re coronavirus.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well people always complain or make comments about Japan's suicide rates.

Well at least the Japanese government and news are talking about it and the increase.

In most western countries the numbers are also up some way up but it is become taboo to even mention it.

Very little in the main news if one tries to ask or comment on sites like CBC News it is immediately suppressed by their moderation.

I haven't read or seen a single major politician or leader in western countries address the situation.

Anyone that thinks that large scale social isolation isn't going to affect people is living in a fantasy.

Japan isn't so bad but imagine a single person living in places where they are locked in their homes for weeks even months, once lockdown lifted the rules, laws, etc... make it near impossible to even have a drink or dinner with a friend because they don't live together.

I am 100% in support of masks, social distancing, taking safety precautions but have things been taken to far in many Western countries?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am 100% in support of masks, social distancing, taking safety precautions but have things been taken to far in many Western countries?

They have no choice because people don't listen in those countries.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Tobias... the 3400 influenza figure is for doctors writing influenza as the cause of death. More than double that number are stated as pneumonia.... pneumonia caused by influenza. These are not counted as influenza deaths. Last year was a bad year, the probable real toll is near 10,000.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mr Kipling,

Leaving aside that the 3400 figure is taken from excess mortality (as stated in the citation), that pneumonia mortality data is not available for the period in question (so there is no way of saying it is twice that figure), and the fact that you offer no citation for you claims, it stands to reason that the same is true of covid-19 reporting; where covid-19 is not listed as a cause of death, then those cases won't be counted.

In any event, this article is about suicide, so if the moderators do not remove our comments, then at least lets end the off topic discussion here as i get the feeling we wont convince each other anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@therougou

Is it that they don't listen or is it because they populations are so unhealthy.

I point this fact from more than a dozen studies. Over 70% of seriously ill covid patients were obese/seriously overweight.

With most western countries have obesity rates nearing and even surpassing 30% that put a lot in the high risk category. (Japan obesity is 5%)

The main thing keeping western nations life expectancy up are prescription medication.

Even the CBC tried to play that in an article recently touting the success of these medications in extending life.

The west is not practicing preventative measures anymore all they do is wait for a new medication or vaccine.

Ask why Covid-19 did not hit countries like Japan South Korea, Taiwan as hard, it isn't just masks or hygiene it is a generally healthier population.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At last count there were 1,495 total corona deaths in Japan. Most of those were elderly or people with underlying conditions who would have died soon even without coronavirus. But yeah, let's keep the restrictions on

Old Lives Matter.

But I'll play your game. People who committed suicide due to the lockdown (which didn't exist) obviously also had 'underlying conditions', which is why they killed themselves. So they don't count, right?

don't worry about all the deaths and misery caused by the restrictions.

As opposed to the deaths and misery caused by death due to the lack of restrictions? You seem to be eager for Japan to have as much death and misery as America, which would make America's response seem less abject. Death and misery loves company, we see the game you are playing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Depression is a serious motional sickness. It's not easy to live with this fate. I hope these poor souls may find peace where they are now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Antiquesaving

Is it that they don't listen or is it because they populations are so unhealthy.

I agree with you that unhealthiness is playing a big part in the number of critical cases and deaths.

What I meant to say is that given the same situation, most Japanese will listen to government or media advice, while in many Western countries only 50 percent or less will listen, causing the need for stricter measures.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Antiquesaving

Yet somehow less than 6% of the people that died in France by August 13 were obese (about 21% of the adult population of France can be considered obese). The Agence nationale de santé publique releases a document called Point épidémiologique hebdomadaire with the French numbers concerning corona every now and then including numbers to comorbidities. In all age groups ,apart from those aged 0-14, around 30% of the people that died had no or no known underlying health conditions (15-44: 34%, 45-64: 29%, 65-74: 33%, 75+: 35%). And among those that actually had at least one (7455 cases by August 13) , only 6% (444) were obese (or 3.9% overall). More people that died were actually suffering from diabetes (16%). Almost all other comorbidities were more common (respiratory system: 13%, diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels: 34%, hypertension: 25%, neurological conditions: 9%, renal illnesses: 12%). Immunodeficiency was the only comorbidity that occured less (2%) than obesity. Yes, most likely there were far less without underlying conditions but obesity is not something anyone would miss.

With most western countries have obesity rates nearing and even surpassing 30% that put a lot in the high risk category.

That's weird. When you look at those 18 and over in the EU, no country get's even near the 30% for women. Malta with the highest rate was sitting around 24% in 2014 (newer official numbers will likely be released next year). For men only Malta got near the 30% but was still below it. Most other countries were around 20%. Still higher than Japan but the obesity rates are nowhere near what you are claiming. Even with the numbers from the WHO from 2015, not a single country surpasses the 30%. Sure there the UK reached 28.1% and there are some other countries that got near the mid 20s, but most were sitting around 20 to 24% which is again a far cry from what you claimed. So please instead of saying western countries, name the countries you're talking about and also give the numbers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Depression is a serious motional sickness. It's not easy to live with this fate. I hope these poor souls may find peace where they are now.

@Mike Stone, well said. Most concise and sympathetic comment on here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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