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What we need is a society in which nobody feels abandoned.

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan, on how to stem Japan's high suicide rate. (AP)

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Good rhetoric, now how do you suppose we do that?

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He's getting a lot of flack for it, but personally I think he's on to something. Suicide is a multi-faceted problem, and throwing more medication at people isn't really the answer, as can be seen from the number of people who kill themselves while on medication. What Kan is doing is acknowledging that you can't dismantle in a few decades a social support system that has existed for centuries and not expect there to be any social repercussions. Unfortunately that system is probably irreplaceable, but trying to come up with something to fill in some of the gaps is about all that can be done at this point.

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I knew a co-worker who was with the local volunteer ambulance crew in his community. He was very frank, mentioned that half of the runs were suicides. Japan is not alone.

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