A white paper published last week by the cabinet contained some troubling suicide statistics. Using data collected during 2019, there were 659 cases of suicides among people aged 10-19, an increase of 60 over the previous year.
This raised the rate of suicides per 100,000 people in the 10-19 age group to 3.1, an annual increase of 0.3 and the highest on record since such statistics began being recorded (as a side note, the Japanese language has no word for “teenager,” which is why the demographic is set as 10-19). Another sobering point of the report: suicide was the leading cause of death among Japanese citizens aged 15-39, and when compared against WHO statistics, Japan is the only economically advanced country where suicide is the leading cause of death among those 15-34.
Suicide being the primary cause of death among Japanese teens and young adults isn’t an entirely new situation for Japan, however. The country has long had very low levels of violent crime and street violence, and a reliance on extremely safe public transportation means fewer traffic accidents, all of which are disproportionally large causes for death among young-and-healthy demographics in any other nations. Factor in Japan’s extensive health care system and national health insurance, and disease is also far less of a threat to young Japanese people than it could be otherwise.
Taking all factors into consideration, suicide being the leading cause of death in the 15-39 demographic isn’t just a sign of high suicide rates, but also of the safety and security of life in Japan reducing the chance of death by other circumstances. The report also showed that suicides overall were down in Japan in 2019, dropping 671 to a total of 20,169, with decreases in all age groups outside 10-19.
Still, just as advancements in transportation safety and medical knowledge are a continuous pursuit, the government likewise wants to find ways to bring the number of suicides down. It’s an especially urgent matter as statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the National Police Agency have shown increases in suicides during every month from July to October in 2020 compared to the same months in 2019, with experts citing the social and emotional isolation of life during the pandemic as contributing to increased numbers of suicides among teens.
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: The Sankei News via Otakomu
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