Survey: More Japanese Thinking of Suicide

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kazue Ando

Tokyo -- "It's obvious that the number of people thinking of suicide has been growing."

This was a key conclusion drawn by the Japan Industrial Counselors Association (JICA) as it announced survey results from its "Nationwide Hotline Counseling Room," launched last month during the three days of "Suicide Prevention Week," September 10th-12th.

JICA offered counseling in thirteen areas across the Japanese nation and received 1,170 calls asking for their services. The number of callers this year surpassed last year's total of 1,093 calls.

30% of callers, citing their own "mental distress and sickness," said they have been "considering death or committing suicide."

The average profile of those seeking counseling has become younger. While the majority of callers in past years have been in their 40s and 50s, this year there was a bump in callers in their 30s.

The severe economic situation and personal financial problems are clearly contributing to the mental distress of many Japanese.

98 people were counseled specifically in regard to employment issues. This was double last year's figure of 44 people. Calls from unemployed persons represented 32.8% of the people who sought counseling on the hotline.

Some sample comments were as follows:

- "I suddenly got fired from my part time job and have been unemployed for a long time since then. I feel like committing suicide" (Male in his 20s).

- "My life is extremely difficult with many debts. Because of the Lehman Shock, my reemployment efforts have not gone well" (Male in his 50s).

- "My son has been withdrawn from society for five years since he lost his job in the financial sector" (Male in his 60s).

Yasunaga Hara, an executive director of JICA, announced in a press release, "We had many consultations with those driven to the edge of suicide. A serious framework is needed to address this issue as an aspect of crisis management for society."

The Ministry of Health and Labor announced on September 7th that the economic losses to the overall Japanese economy from suicide and depression were about US$32 billion in 2009.

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