Suicide rate drops to historic low.

With Japanese society often placing intense pressure on teens and adults alike, as well as traditional values that can frame self-sacrifice as an admirable way of taking responsibility, a high suicide rate has long been a dark mark on the nation’s culture. So it’s encouraging to hear that in 2019, fewer people in Japan chose to end their own lives than in any of the past 41 years, and possibly even further back than that.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, after examining statistics from the National Police Agency, has announced that during 2019, 19,959 people committed suicide in Japan. That number is the lowest ever recorded by the organization, which began keeping a suicide tally in 1978.

The ministry’s preliminary findings won’t be finalized until its official report is published in March but as of right now 2019 may also be the first time on record that fewer than 20,000 suicides were committed in Japan. In addition, 2019 was the 10th year in a row for a drop in the number of incidents.

The improvement isn’t something that simply came about because of a decrease in Japan’s total population, either. The ministry says that in 2019 there were 15.8 suicides per 100,000 people in the country, a 4.24-percent decrease compared to 2018. No single factor was credited with the change, though mental health and depression-related health risks have become an increasingly open topic in government and private sector discussions, at least compared to generations past.

Despite the improving numbers, however, Japan’s suicide rate still remains significantly higher than man other similarly developed countries, and the country still has a long way to go in reaching the government’s goal, announced in 2017, of less than 13 suicides per 100,000 people. Still, the recent statistics are a sign that things are getting better, which hopefully mirrors the emotional state of those in Japan who have been struggling with emotional pain.

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

Source: Kyodo via Jin
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