Annual study also shows historically low suicide rate for women in Japan.

Japan’s National Police Agency has released the results from its annual analysis of suicide statistics for the country. Despite the report that 21,140 people chose to end their lives in Japan during 2017, in some ways the news is heartening.

For starters, 2017 was the eighth straight year in which the number of suicides in Japan dropped, with the total number down roughly 3.5 percent compared to the previous year. The agency also said that the rate of 16.7 suicides per 100,000 people is the lowest since it began recording such data in 1978.

Japanese me continued to be more than twice as likely, statistically, to take their own lives as women, with 23.8 suicides per 100,000 men compared to 9.9 for women. That second statistic is another encouraging milestone, as it marks the first time the figure has dipped below 10 for women in Japan in the NPA’s records.

Still, 16,7 suicides per 100,000 residents is a significantly higher rate than other countries with a level of economic development comparable to Japan’s. Things were even worse on a prefectural level, with cold, northern Akita Prefecture recording 24.22 suicides per 100,000 people, neighboring Aomori 22.1, and Yamanashi (which includes the forest Aokigahara, one of Japan’s most well-known suicide spots) 21.9. Osaka, Kanagawa, and Nara had the lowest rates (13.2, 13.7, and 13.8, respectively).

Health problems, economic difficulties, and familial strife were the most common reasons for suicide. The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare credits the declining number of suicides to a strong economy and improved counseling and other countermeasures., which would definitely be useful in alleviating financial or familial concerns. However, while the number of suicides fell in almost every age group, there was one where it rose: people 19 years old or younger.

Legal adulthood in Japan begins at 20, and in 2017 516 minors committed suicide, representing a six percent increase compared to 2016. Health, Labour, and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato has said Japan’s youth suicide situation requires urgent improvement, and says that he hopes to improve access to and involvement of suicide prevention counselling on social media, and also to further research on youth suicide to provide better training and guidelines for counselors.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Sources: NHK News Web via Jin, Mainichi Shimbun
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