Suicides in Japan dropped for a decade. Then the pandemic hit.




In Japan, a nation that has long struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, the emotional strain is manifesting itself in a disturbing trend. For the first time in a little over a decade, the number of those who took their own lives last year exceeded the previous year, reversing years of work to curb a stubbornly high number of self-inflicted deaths.

According to the health ministry’s preliminary data, 20,919 people died by suicide in 2020, up 3.7% from 2019, compared with 3,459 coronavirus-related deaths in the same period.

While men in Japan are typically more likely to die by suicide, last year saw the number of women killing themselves grow by 885 to 6,976, while suicides among men fell slightly. Meanwhile, figures for those in their 20s and those age 19 or younger grew by 17% and 14%, respectively, according to a tally by the Nikkei business daily, providing insight into which groups are the most vulnerable.

Author(s): ALEX K.T. MARTIN

Publication Date: 7 February 2021

Publication Site: Japan Times