Japan sees worst suicide rate for those under 20 in 2018


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The rate of suicide per 100,000 people hit 2.8 among those under 20, the highest since comparable data became available in 1978. But the rate at all ages fell to 16.5, the lowest since 1978, according to the 2019 white paper on suicide prevention measures.

As the population ages, and decreases, the demographics and statistics are of course going to show changes.

However the increase in the younger generation is a scary fact that needs to be dealt with NOW. Not lip service, not statistic taking, but actually action.

But it wont, and more young people are going to die, because people are too damn afraid or proud to give their kid a hug and say they love them and to let them know they matter!

19 ( +22 / -3 )

The rate of suicide per 100,000 people hit 2.8 among those under 20, the highest since comparable data became available in 1978. 

The birthrate has declined dramatically over the same period. Less children, but more youth suicides. The break up of reasons is misleading. I'd put school related issues at 80%. Teenagers have way to much pressure from school. Even the ones cited as family issues would be related to school with pressure from monster parents. Japanese people really need to review how they treat their children and stop putting so much pressure on them. It should also be noted that child abuse has also dramatically increased over the same period, which is related.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Killing oneself because of bad exam scores?

Japan needs to sort itself out big time

8 ( +12 / -4 )

We'll see more after summer vacation.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Tip of iceberg.

If more kill themselves, what about those not "brave" enough that would just go into a shell forever, aka hikikomori. This is a very Japanese result of pressure from school social system.

I know that my son could have had issues of this type if he had to undergo the Japanese system through above primary school, probably not my girls.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Unfortunately mental issues and the immense pressure and expectations young people have to cope with in Japanese society are still largey taboo and these issues need to be talked about in all openness.

We need to reach out to those traversing a difficult period in their life and send out the message we are their to help them.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As government statistics are tweeked to support the government this is an alarming one. I'm pretty sure they only counted those that fit the narrow guidelines and there is probably a thousand or more that didn't fit the criteria.

Way too much stress growing up in Japan, as an adult preoccupation with the layered social expectations can take up a lot of brain space, leaving little room!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I see no mention of bullying. This has been a significant cause of youth suicide in the past.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

For a country that is literally dependent on the younger population for its future existence, these numbers are not only alarming but outrageous. Add these numbers to the statistics in child abuse and neglect and I think we'll see exactly how this country is preparing for its future. As Yubaru said in his (I'm assuming gender) post, this needs action NOW. For starters, expand and deepen child social services, train cops in child protection and have enforcement of legal culpability if there are any indications of negligence on the part of social services (including schools) and law enforcement in protecting a child. Also, make laws that make the coverups of such negligence more severe than the crime of professional negligence itself.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

what about those not "brave" enough that would just go into a shell forever, aka hikikomori

Yes indeed knowing that Japan has about 1 million hikikomori we must strive to give these people a purpose in their life so they can become productive members of society.

The Japanese government needs to send out the message that a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about and that these people should seek out professional help.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I see no mention of bullying. This has been a significant cause of youth suicide in the past.

You are right that's certainly a factor and a point of attention.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

To be a teenager in Japan is not pleasant. Conformism, control and gaman. Tanoshukunai.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

As the population ages, and decreases, the demographics and statistics are of course going to show changes.

uhhhhh...that's a big fat no. there's no correlation to an aging society and the suicide rate. this is just gobbledygook.

there really is no real explanation for the sudden increase in suicide for people under 20. this could just be an outlier year. quite possibly there is no real solution for this problem unfortunately.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I suspect social media is a factor for the younger ones.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Suicide in Japan is always a major concern especially when its young people. Whatever can be done to reduce numbers is always welcome.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the most common reason for suicide among boys was academic underachievement.

It's a wonder I'm still alive!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

i can see school being a prominent reason cited.

School options are somewhat limited and getting into the best public schools even from the youngest of ages will help guarantee your future to the best universities. It will also save a considerable amount of money. One of the biggest issues is that students are not given great second or third options to getting into many schools. This pressure can be a lot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Before citing adversity as a reason I would cite the ability to overcome adversity. This is where I believe the school system has truly failed the students. To have the spirit to overcome adversity they need more free time to develop social skills, deepen ties with friends and yes, even get into some real romance. As it is, their time is dominated by club activities and homework, even on weekends and holidays. It makes you wonder what the hell is going on during school hours...thumb twittling?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The article talks about the highest amount of suicides in young people, not the overall population. 20,840 suicides in 2018 is still a significant number when it's contrasted with the lower birthrates since 1978 (when statistics were first recorded) and huge drop in population. Remember, the population dropped from 126 million to 125 million. That's a important number to think about when comparing statistics.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The results included cases of up to three identified motives per person. By types of school-related issues, poor academic performance was cited by 57, worries for the future by 46 and friction with schoolmates by 27.

We do not know the details of this study, but "friction with schoolmates" presumably means bullying. If it does, that means academic pressure kills many more. "Worries for the future" sounds like a proxy for academic pressure as well.

This does not mean that bullying is not an issue in Japanese schools. Only that academic pressure is a big issue too. The number of university places has not fallen, so it is actually much easier to get into a good college than twenty years ago. The hiring rate for graduates is also at an all-time high. Children should not be under increased pressure.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And they will get worse before they get better.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Unlike Japan, the West is awash with narcotics, which young people use to kill themselves or otherwise destroy their lives in large numbers.

In Japan, deeply troubled youth choose suicide. In the West, they choose narcotics. Pick your poison

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

There's a big difference between youth suicide and drug overdoses and the motives for both are not the same. People taking drugs don't expect to die. In western countries there are also youth suicides. Some place have a chain reaction going on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If you were a kid, would you want to grow up in a society that forces you to go through an education system intended to strip you of your identity, that forces you to wear so many masks you lose track of what's left of who you are, then defines you as something else on the basis of arbitrary test scores, then assigns you a track in life and treats you like an interchangeable machine part for the rest of it? Little surprise they check out early.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No mention of bullying, which is bizarre. Not just from schoolmates, but teachers, parents. The elephant in the room.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I suspect social media is a factor for the younger ones.

Yes, seeing so many, young and old, always staring at their smart phone (and games), must have a negative impact on one's psychological well being (and grades, relationships, health...), especially among the young.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I know for sure, the kids here in Kyushu seem much happier than their peers in other parts especially than the kids in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya.

Big cities suck the soul out of all especially the vulnerable and the young.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The life of a teenager in Japanese cities really sucks! This statistic needs to look at the amount of city suicides to rural suicides. Teenagers in the cities are spending 16 hours a day 7 days a week in schooling with juku, homework and sports clubs. It’s absolutely absurd! Any individuality and/or creativity is drummed out of them through rigorous testing and ridiculous academic standards. It should be no surprise so many teenagers are choosing death over life. They have no life!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@yaburu,You are 100% correct. I take my daughter to the bus stop every day and pick her up. I always give her a hug and kiss before she leaves and when she gets home. I am the only American in my neighborhood, and my actions shock everyone. We always tell our kids how much we love them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No easy solution.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Yes the solution is easy.

Be a loving parent, let your children grow with love and trust so they can tell you when life is bad.

Its not so hard, if you ignore the ridiculous social norms imposed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Akie - No easy solution

And, that’s the attitude that caused the problem in the first place. The solution is easy. Stop treating kids like assets and duty. Treat them like humans and stop forcing absurd academic expectations on them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Perhaps there are too few messages to the Japanese youth saying they should ganbare a bit more. You know, uplifting phrases like "Ganbare, Japan!"

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Teachers, parents, local education authority's need to fully engage with students to urgently identify the limitations of societies expectations and the costs of failure that leads to a downward spiral ending in desolation, despair and finally the only release is to take ones own life.

Every education establishment requires an independent personal and professional counselling student support provider.

"We will make more efforts to achieve a society in which nobody is cornered into suicide by cooperating with other government ministries and agencies," Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto said at a press conference.

Arrogant weasel words, outrageous and unacceptable, not remotely good enough.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The school system is so out of date here. I've put my eldest in the local elementary school and i'm thinking of going private for junior high. I wanted to send her to the local school because I wanted her to have local friends and be totally involved in the community. She's happy with the friends she made but she doesn't find it very interesting. The system just seems so stifling and it doesn't need to be like that, if they made it more interesting and encouraged childrens creativity they'd get so much more from them and their state of mind would be much much better.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese parents are as loving as all other parents. It is sick to hear all those who blame everything on the Japanese people, as if they were morons. Perhaps, if Japanese parents act as being lectured by those foreign "teachers", their children would be as smart as their children, so 8+1 would be 10, and a big five for the best effort answer.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

It's simple. Ten easy steps to help with teen suicide.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.

Mix classes up as much as possible. The reason they have all this bullying is because the students can't interact with different groups of people and find groups that suit them. They are just forced into one class for the entire time at the school.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.

Get rid of the mandatory extended classes and club activities, this is what pushes them the most. A lot of it is a complete waste of time. Make them optional, only if they truly need it or want to do it, then it will be fine. But let them enjoy being young. Let them partake in free time activities and even part time jobs.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.

Let them express them selves in classes, enough with the mindless and endless lectures. One can only listen for so long before they shut it out.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.

Start giving detention and punishment to the delinquent students. They have no fear and no consequences for misbehaving, so why would they care? That's where bullying begins. Give them Saturday detention and have them clean the school all day. Or better yet give them in school dentition where they clean the school in front of their peers all day. That would shape them up real quick.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.

Get rid of the ridiculous test mentality.
5 ( +5 / -0 )

shogun36, why is test a ridiculous mentality ? Leaders are tested, not elected, get it ?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

If killing yourself with a drug overdose was defined as suicide, the US would be way ahead of Japan.

Even without counting drug overdose as suicide the US has seen a steady increase in youth suicide whereas the rate for Japan has been largely constant.

People explaining suicide in Japan in terms of exam pressure or bullying should read up on New Zealand.  

“New Zealand has the highest death rate for teenagers and young people among 19 of the world's developed, wealthy countries.”

“New Zealand had by far the highest mortality rate for people aged 10 to 24 years - around 35 deaths per 100,000 people.”

New Zealand has none of the elements used to explain youth suicide in Japan yet it is worse than Japan on just about every indicator.

Teenagers have way to[o] much pressure from school.

Not really. As soon as you get away from the very elite schools, most of the kids are on cruise control. Even in these schools, there is not as much pressure as foreigners imagine. My younger son coasted into one of the top public high schools in Tokyo. He spends far more time playing soccer than studying. My older son went to a mid-level Tokyo public high school. He spent more time on club activities than study.

For a country that is literally dependent on the younger population for its future existence, these numbers are not only alarming but outrageous. 

Not really. As a percentage of the age cohort, the number of future workers lost to youth suicide is microscopic. Reducing the youth suicide rate to zero would have no measurable impact on future population and workforce decline.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

why is test a ridiculous mentality ? Leaders are tested, not elected, get it ?

Testing is fine, it shows a certain amount of intelligence or skill, sure. But when it's the ONLY way to measure someone, it can cause problems. All it does is show the person's ability to memorize something. It doesn't necessarily show that someone has learned something.

If I was an employer and had to choose between a VERY good test taker vs a person with great skill and some experience, I'll take the experienced person over a good test taker any day of the week.

But that's just me.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You know, the irritating aspect!

The totally unnecessary waste that these suicides could have made to Japan economic, political establishment.

There continues to be a need to exonerate or forgive within society.

A reluctance to redefine the worship of a minoritarian political right wing cabal that refuses any demand to abolishing past feudal regimes Imperial rescript on Education. that reaches into the heart of Government

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Separating kids after sixth grade is the beginning of life-long pressure

with loss of support from friends kids once knew and trusted.

The pressure to get into a "good" school ruins everything.

As long as a school is accredited,

let kids go to their own districts, retain their friends, develop their friendships,

more inter-action between girls and boys, dances, school plays,

and fun activities, rather than obligatory hour-sucking clubs.

Parents, TALK with your kids every day, and know what's going on in their lives.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


i put my daughter through elementary school in Japan at a public one but I certainly made sure I put her in private schools for JHS and HS.

I would hate for to have been indoctrinated at a public JHS like most kids are plus if you want her to speak English it is a no-brainer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's a screwed up system. And death for many is better. The rest just look forward to a life of drudgery and a jealous felling about those who bowed out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most of the children we know from mixed marriages prefer to attend a Japanese school, public or private rather than an international school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Many people have nothing to live for.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Social media

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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