Japan: Suicides up to highest level in 5 years due to coronavirus-related economic woes

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Nov 10, 2020, 04:06 PM(IST)

A volunteer responds an incoming call at the Tokyo Befrienders call center, a Tokyo's suicide hotline center, during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tokyo, Japan May 26, 2020. Picture taken May 26, 2020. Photograph:( Reuters )

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After the four month run upto October, the number of suicides are now at the highest level in the country in over five years

Suicides in Japan rose for the fourth month in a row, according to police data. After the four month run upto October, the number of suicides are now at the highest level in the country in over five years. According to activists, the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown is to be blamed for this. Women in particular remain affected. 

Reuters reported that preliminary police data showed that the total number of suicides had increased to 2,153 for October. This marks an increase of over 300 from the previous month. Additionally, it represents the highest number of suicides in the country since May 2015.

For women, the number of suicide cases rose by 82.6 per cent. They accounted for 851 suicides. For men, the increase was 21.3 per cent.

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Cases of suicide in Japan had been declining until July, when the effects of the coronavirus on the economy became more prominent. Due to the pandemic, businesses were shut, and millions across the globe were asked to stay in by their governments. Owing to this, economic hardships rose for many.

Women have more chances of being employed in non-permanent situations, for instance in retail or service jobs. And they have been disproportionately affected by loss of livelihood.

Culturally, in Japan, suicide is seen as a way to avoid shame and dishonour.

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Additionally, seeking help for one’s ailments was stigmatised in Japan for long. The country has the highest rate of suicide among G7 nations.

In 2007, the country launched a suicide prevention programme to stem deaths caused by suicide. This was triggered by the 2003 suicide numbers in the country, whereby 34,427 people killed themselves.

Putting proactive measures in motion, and by identifying groups at the highest risk of suicide, the country was able to lower the rate of suicide among its citizens. In 2019, the the numbers were down to 20,000.

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