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Over 25% of Japanese in their 20s have considered suicide

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If that statistic is anywhere near true, and those people actually seriously thought about suicide, then this should be a serious wake up call to the Japanese government to start implementing programs to increase awareness of mental health issues, as well as considering strategies to address the origins of such problems. They need to find out what is causing people to think like this, and how it can be addressed. That is a very sad and very disturbing statistic.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tamarama - of course, you're right on the money there, and yes, it SHOULD be a wake up call for the government, but...

I fear a hearty "Ganbare!" band-aid platitude is all that the vast majority of these people will get, which, when you think about it, is just as sad as the causes of this malaise.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

“The data show that the younger people hesitate to talk to others, or cannot find anyone to talk to when they have a problem because of shallow relationships with others,”

I think that says alot about the situation here in Japan. I don't understand Japan sometimes. I mean there is a big push to get kids into the "right school" so I guess once they get there they are all miserable and don't really speak to each other, or try to bond and develop friendships. I wonder what they consider shallow in their relationships?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's going to take a lot more than government programs to change this. They can't just wave a magic wand and change how people feel about people with mental problems. Any kind of behavior other than "Ganbarimashita!" is met with all kinds of scorn, gossip, and private ridicule. That kind of stuff only changes from the ground on, not from some silly government posters on trains.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But the real question is why this is happening at all in a country that is richer, more stable and more influential than at any time in its history? Over the past 40 years, Japanese parents have abandoned traditional values in favor of one single goal. From the beginning of childhood, the importance of money and achievement are emphasised by their parents, so they feel that unless you are successful in school grades and a good job, good prestigious college, you're not successful, and the parents behave as if 'you're not my child. Even young children typically work from early morning until late at night, and often at weekends too, to get into the best university they can and eventually secure a well-paying job. The pressure is intense, and the routine relentless for years on end. Why is the school performance is so important in Japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its a very serious wake up call that crosses all borders. I realize its a hard subject to look at; an averted gaze is preferred by many who have not been touched by this tragedy. I have had to face its consequences and survive. Ain't easy, let me tell you. Whatever we can do to avert such losses is a direct person responsibility for every one of us, not just "the Government".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why is the school performance is so important in Japan?

Because having a child in the "right" school became a recognized and required status symbol for parents. The cold hard facts are everyone is not created with the same capabilities and when the child does not measure up, the parents started to send them to tutors for extra training. It then became a vicious cycle, the smart ones had to become "smarter" to stay ahead of the average ones who were now on the Kumon steroids, so they started to go to better Kumons etc.etc. Now we are at the point that the average students have reached the Peter Principal point even with Kumon, and just can't make the cut. The parents do not recognize this and are convinced that little Kenji is just not studying enough. After all, the family’s name/face is at stake.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Back on topic please.

Placing top priority on working/studying hard, to get in the right schools, to get in the right college, to win a job where a boss/superior devalues and crushes any shred of dignity with practices of forced after-work drinking, unpaid overtime, de-humanizing daily packed rush-hour train commutes, non-equal pay for equal work, etc.

The pressure to conform in order to succeed, has effects.

Given that, it's surprising the numbers aren't higher.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why does suicide have to be associated with mental illness? Japan has a long history of ritual suicide and some of that has to transfer to the everyday culture. I support a person’s right to take their own life. There are always a group of people who will instantly say how selfish a person who commits suicide is and how devastating it is to those left behind, but who is really being selfish? Those who make this argument are wanting the person who takes their own live to continue to live in that personal hell, just so they will feel better and not have to deal with someone else’s death. It takes a lot of courage to take your own life, I could never do it, but I wholly sympathize with people who just want to cash their chips and get off the merry-go-round.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Gees! I think every teenager or adolescent worldwide has considered suicide at least once. It just that in Japan a large percentage of them actually go through with it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Where was this survey carried out, anyway? I'll bet it's different for city people as to countryside. As for the actual topic - suicide - I find it the most selfish and weak thing a person could ever do. It's a copout on taking responsibility. If people in their 20s are seriously thinking about suicide then it's definitely due to their fear of having to take some responsibility for themselves. I do agree with most of you that there is a mental beatdown on kids from an early age, and that the idea of friendship and relationships is pretty hollow. But, that's nothing I think anyone of us from other countries hasn't had to survive.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

i just had conversation with a 25yr old girl about it. she told me that her father said if she wanna kill herself than please not jump infront of train cos the cost has to be paid by parents and it would cost a lot.

something is wrong here in japan very wrong.

but in the end they will never listen to foreign advice and change they rather go all down and the country disappear.

if they keep going with the current birth rate in 100 years time japan only got 50mio people left and few 100yrs more there will be nobody left.

i rather would be living in a slum in asia than being japanese!!! they have absolutly no idea what they do to their humans with this ice cold non speaking society.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I've had two Japanese friends who told me they wanted to die literally, one was younger who was kind of rich spoiled(butler the whole 9 yards), the other was a regular older adult who just told me she was tired of doing her typical job and being tired at the end of the day. Japanese government really needs to address this problem somehow they just kick everything under the rug in this corrupt political environment.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yawn...lack of sleep; the link between mental problems, suicide, thought of suicide and lack of sleep is well established.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I admit the 25% figure caught me off guard, I wud have guessed 8-10% for 20-30yr olds.............

But I dont understand why posters seem surprised at this, I mean come on wud any of you want to have been raised here?? I sure as heck wudnt! Japanese society constantly HAMMERS ALL JAPANESE, whether is parents, schools, friends, work EVERYWHERE people are HAMMERED, CONSTANTLY, being told how they are to behave, EXACTLY what to/can be said

So we shud hardly be surprised the nation is raising its people to hide behind masks, NOT to open to others even family, dont rock the boat in any way, dont complain unless your drinking so you can forget what was said.

Like I have said for as long as I can remember, Japanese mostly lead poor, sad lives, dont know how to enjoy life, but they sure as hell know how to make sure all around them are sufficiently miserable.

Its just now that ages Zero to 60yrs of age are all poisoned with this upbringing.

Unless Japan re-invents itself wholesale, top to bottom, all around this WILL JUST GET WORSE as time goes by.

I mean folks admit it, do you really think you would enjoy life in Japan IF you were Japanese? Think about it! I have long realized that being a gaijin can really up your quality of life in Japan! I wish more Japanese could see the light & do something to improve their lives, it can be done, but sadly the ole "shoganai" is king in Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm surprised the ratio is higher for women, when in fact more than double the number of men actually off themselves. The overall percentage of people who commit suicide in Japan is 0.02%, but it is still 7th highest in the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's sad that so many people have thought about suicide but I don't think that this is purely a Japanese thing. Many people in developed countried contemplate it for various reasons like pressure from their family, work, relationships or because of a mental illness. I hope that more people feel able to talk to their friends about this very serious issue in order to get help. Even having someone just listen to them may help out a lot. I know that if one of my friends wasn't there for me a few years back, I wouldn't be here today.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@jforce

I dont know about that though. Have you ever seriously contemplated suicide? You really have to be in a seriously depressed state. If dying is better than living, and you are prepared to follow through with killing yourself. Im certain there would be more problems than just not wanting to take on responsibility for their life.

The only time I have ever wanted to kill myself was when I was 18. I was driving home and I really just wanted to ram my car into a pole. It was by far the worst day of my life. I obviously didn't and couldn't follow through with it. But seriously, if someone feels like that on a daily basis, why wouldn't they want to commit suicide.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

i know how they feel

1 ( +1 / -0 )

RiffRaff

I support a person’s right to take their own life. There are always a group of people who will instantly say how selfish a person who commits suicide is and how devastating it is to those left behind, but who is really being selfish? Those who make this argument are wanting the person who takes their own live to continue to live in that personal hell, just so they will feel better and not have to deal with someone else’s death. It takes a lot of courage to take your own life, I could never do it, but I wholly sympathize with people who just want to cash their chips and get off the merry-go-round

Mmm, I'm guessing you don't really have any experience with suicide, right? You really debase the value of relationships and the nature of humman connectedness by making a comment like that. Suicide really does not solve any problems. A beautiful life is lost, and ALL of the people who were related to, or were friends with that person have to live with their desperately sad death for the rest of their lives. A death that could very likely have been prevented by some kind of timely intervention or treatment or whatever. The world is not better for their departure, I can assure you. Suicide leaves you with this horrible legacy that you have failed somebody close to you, that you weren't loving enough, attentive enough to their desperate situation when they needed you the most. I don't think many of those people really WANT to die, they just see suicide as the best possible, or only solution to their problem. Public awareness, mental health support programs, proper diagnosis and treatment is what is needed to help these people realise there are better options available to them. Suicide is truly horrible. I hope you never have to find that out for yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it hurts you know, some of those ppl can be my friends I have none ATM. I don't want to see you hurt yourselves because its insult to injury!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

this isnt a better question to japanese. japanese are tend to think commiting suiside is beautiful thing to end their lives especially youth. because of they have a little samurai spirit, and they have been taught being japanese is ashamed since the ww2 end. "i want to die until 30y old" is a major term in japanese girls to express their poor situation to get boys attention. maybe im wrong.. anyway, i have a bad feeling this survey that gives youth to have thought thinking to end their lives isnt abnormal. have you tried to take your life? is more better question to them. and let them think keeping their lives.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

they have a problem because of shallow relationships with others,”

Does this mean that young Japanese are just "superficial" in their dealings with people. I'll keep on saying this, but I live in a very peaceful and quiet area. But every Friday when I take out the pet bottles, I see so many bags filled with at least a case of beer and other heavy liquor bottles every week. But you would never think that there were that many drinkers in my area, since everyone is very quiet, and to be honest, I never see anyone outside of their homes except the very old ladies sweeping the street. No people out interacting with each other and oddly enough, no kids out playing, but I have seen them go to school.

A lot of pent up frustration here in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Tamarama

A very well written and throughout post, a refreshing respite. I do feel you are overlooking one of the most fundamental rights of a human being, self determination. When we as a society take it upon ourselves to deny another human being the right to die, we are robbing them of this self determination. We are saying you must live to please us, live so we can say we saved you, live so we feel good. An example of this is when a group of advocates go to court to stop a feeding tube from being removed from a brain dead person, who has clearly stated in their will that that is the action they would want. It has become the default response by a huge block of politically correct people to immediately say “well he/she obviously needs treatment and we are here to see it is administered whether the recipient wants it or not. People, who desire help, will in most all instances find it. Granted there may be cases when people reach out and the help is not obtainable, but that is an exception rather than the rule even in Japan. I am not advocating suicide, but I do think it is a basic human right that should not be denied. You brought out a very good point when you said the people left behind have to deal with a legacy that they failed the person in some way, it illustrates that we are putting OUR feelings before the person who committed suicides desires or rights. How dare they leave and make me deal with guilt. How dare they leave without letting me save them! As a parting thought, why don’t I have the right to be a coward? Why do I have to stay and deal with day to day living? You pat me on the head and go home, smile to yourself and feel good, yesterday I had a plan and finally a measure of peace and today you made me feel guilty and selfish now I have to stay here in my personal little hell. Who really benefited?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So much for the AKB48 suicide prevention campaign. Heck maybe it worked and thus the number of young men contemplating suicide went down? Of course, maybe it is also one reason for the increase among young women?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@tamarama

Mmm, I'm guessing you don't really have any experience with suicide, right?

And to answer this question; My best friend from my high school days, wife was killed in a freak tree trimming accident. They had been married almost two years and had made many plans, they loved each other very much. After her death, he and I sat for many hours and talked about life and the world in general, the pain he was feeling was obvious. One evening he stated to me that he wanted to die. I tried to point out the time would help him forget and he had friends etc. Suggested that he get professional help etc. One evening he looked me in the eye and acknowledged that the future held possibilities and that with time he might forget a little, but he said, “you know, I don’t want to live that life. I had the life I wanted and now it is gone. It was enough, anything more will just be hollow. If you had been sitting there that evening and looking into his eyes you would have seen they held a truth as profound as life itself. A few days later he walked off into the woods with a shotgun....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Back on topic please. The subject is Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A friend of mine killed himself yesterday, he tweeted about it until the final moment, I don't use twitter so I did not know the state he was in, he had over 2500 followers and no one helped him, including the government or police.

He said he killed himself because he lost his job and had no way to support himself.

The government needs to stop producing figures are start producing results!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

what is wrong with our country when suicide is viable solution to most of life's problems?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Riffraff I'm very sorry to hear about your friend.

When we as a society take it upon ourselves to deny another human being the right to die, we are robbing them of this self determination. We are saying you must live to please us, live so we can say we saved you, live so we feel good

The older I get, the more strongly I believe in the responsibilities we have to those around us. Rights V Responsibilities is a very interesting and current question that we can't cover here, but it is linked to this discussion quite strongly. In the cases like your friend, I feel that we, as a community have a responsibility to help people who are in such a place that rational and clear decision making is impossible. I also strongly believe that some of these extreme mental conditions put perfectly loving and giving people into places where they cannot properly assess the brevity of their actions and they lose sight of their own resposibilities and connections - which many people who don't know much about suicide confuse for selfishness. I am strongly of the belief that this can often be a momentary and fleeting impulse which the community as a whole has a responsibility to help them through when they can't manage that themselves, in their most vulnerable hour, so to speak. If I knew someone was in that state, I would never just leave them and say "Hey look, it's your choice, do what you think is best", partly because I couldn't bare it, but partly also because I'm sure that in 99% of cases things can get better with the right treatment and help and that they can move past their darkest hour into clearer skies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A good start toward a solution would be to give an average person a happy life worth living. This is only possible in a world not driven by the desire for ever increasing wealth. The only problem is that our lives are controlled by the never ending greed of people who already are so wealthy that they need no further wealth. Business says it must keep up with their competition, but the competition is only to increase their wealth, not to give better products at lower prices, and to pay higher wages to their employees. These social changes would need to be implemented by the powerful who would need a new mind set about their purpose in life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

almxx

A good start toward a solution would be to give an average person a happy life worth living.

We take responsibility for our own lives and our destiny. Our life is in our own hands. Happiness is something relative, need to get beyond the concept of happy to a place where you just are, a sort of living every moment experience and using all the negative energy to make something positive. Like turning poison into medicine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is a serious flaw in the Japanese psyche. I've lived here for 18 years and is clearly evident to me.... why isn't it obvious to the J- gov. They need to address this and many other things in their society. Why is it that in other much poorer countries people aren't disheartened to the point where they have to resort to suicide?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Causes of this problems comes from lack of family ties and bonding. Love and affections are shallow. And yes, some posters here are right. It's all about money , education and security imposed on every child once they are able understand what is life all about. My ex in laws always tells me, work is important than family cuz no work no food for the family.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's also this stiff upper lip culture... being encouraged not to show emotions. My ex's son is like that, and it's nothing she's done. He just seems to have adopted the stiff upper lip mentality from school.

As long as they are encouraged to put work ahead of everything life will continually become a trudge for Japanese people. I always fear for my ex and other Japanese friends - what would it take to push them into suicide?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My Japanese friend often tells me she doesn't like to burden others with her problems and how selfless the Japanese are. Noble sentiments but not worth this horrific suicide rate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I work for a J-company where it is endless work, endless overtime, endless duty, and now that I am in my mid-fifties I feel burnt-out like never before. The pace is relentless, the criticism for slacking neverending, the gaman/gambaru mentality an unendurable grind. People kill themselves here ? What a surprise !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow, please enough of the folks who want to say how wonderful Japan is and simply shrug these kinds of HUGE warning signs off. The isolation of people in Japan is horrible. Things like the lack of father's involvement in child-rearing and bullying cannot continue to be ignored. Japan is not a healthy society -- low birth rate and high suicide rate -- and continuing to bury everyone's head in the sand isn't helping.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've noticed that there is so much suicidal scenes on TV; a lot more so then when I was in the U.S. I've also noticed that this suicidal practice stems back from medieval times. If things go bad for me or if I didn't get into the right school, I as sure as hell am not going to top myself over it. Stuff all Japanese parents who force their kids to study like no tomorrow. Let them enjoy their childhood and make their own mistakes. That's probably why there's a lot of shy folks out there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's okay... forcing the kids to sing the national anthem and buying the Senkaku islands will somehow magically solve all of our problems and prevent suicides, clearly!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I work for a J-company where it is endless work, endless overtime, endless duty,

This is where I see there will be difficulty in trying to solve this problem. I work on base, and there are many Japanese workers. Some work hard, but a few don't really do much. They just go through the motions. The ones that used to work off base and then start to work on base have told me the same thing. A lot of overtime and expected work, but not much is really being done. I guess if you do that enough times a week, a feeling of pressure builds up in some.

But a lot of the suicide cases one sees here in JT are with older people. Retirees or people who don't work who are tired for taking care of a sick relative, or just stressed out over something.

I think Japan has a long way to go in solving this issue, but at least they are trying to bring it out into the open now I hope.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Although most of these children and young adults are very patriotic as a lot of Japanese are, there a lot of things they wish they could change about their country. Perhaps the most important of those things is the education system. But they don’t know where to start. Why? Because they feel like no one listens to them. They have no say in anything. The previous generations have defined what is acceptable and what it’s not and there is no room for anything that is not Japanese or fits the Japanese way. Could it be that it’s built into the system and that’s why no one is able to put a finger on what the problem is although it’s in their face?

From the beginning of childhood, the importance of money and achievement are emphasised by their parents. What does that mean? It is simple. The children in Japan have no childhood. They don’t have a normal life and as soon as they can walk and talk the race is on. I can see it in most of the classes, from their behavior, their attitudes and most of all I can see how sad and depressed some of them are as they fall asleep in class, complain about how much they wished things were different. They can say these things to a foreigner but I rarely hear them repeat as such to a Japanese teacher.

Japan is a socialistic society for lack of a better word. But simply put it seems everyone is responsible for everyone. Even the young. What are they responsible for? They have the burden of being the brightest in fields that they are trained to like from when they are born. The children are expected to be the best in all educational matters. Their job is to be a student. And in this job the reward comes much later in life, no pay, long shifts, 10hours a day or more, and some Saturdays are required. Basically, individualism is strictly prohibited.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

From the beginning of childhood, the importance of money and achievement are emphasised by their parents. What does that mean? It is simple. The children in Japan have no childhood. They don’t have a normal life and as soon as they can walk and talk the race is on. I can see it in most of the classes, from their behavior, their attitudes and most of all I can see how sad and depressed some of them are as they fall asleep in class, complain about how much they wished things were different. They can say these things to a foreigner but I rarely hear them repeat as such to a Japanese teacher.

BINGO!

We have a winner! This is where it ALL STARTS, & it goes downhill from there for the majority, that is why I said I wudnt want to be Japanese. Overall its pretty dismal for most, & so so so unnecessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Our life is in our own hands. Happiness is something relative, need to get beyond the concept of happy to a place where you just are, a sort of living every moment experience and using all the negative energy to make something positive.

Zichi:

I agree.

As a person in the arts, "recycling of bad energy" is a big part of the creative process!

But this is a much harder nut to crack when you are not self-employed/your own boss...

It is harsh to see young men/women, drunk on late-night, crowded trains... Inexperienced drunk. The kind of drunk that comes from non-regular drinkers forced to participate, to "conform", after their work is done...

That practice is wrong. It needs to stop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

pamelot

I too am an artist.

But this is a much harder nut to crack when you are not self-employed/your own boss...

When I was 20-years old I made the decision never to work for someone else. My family had a long history of self employment so not so strange for my family. I'm now 60-years.

People just need to make the decision to get an element of control over their lives.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

People just need to make the decision to get an element of control over their lives.

Agreed! But I bet the above wud scare the hell out of most people in Japan, I dont really see people in Japan wanting that, but think more shud try it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Consider suicide" could mean passive death wish or thinking about killing oneself with or without intent, plan, and/or means. There is nothing pathological about "thinking about it" without intent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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