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Pandemic year saw suicides at decade-high in Japan

Health Ministry official terms situation ‘severe’ as 20,919 people ended their lives in the over-ageing country

Riyaz Ul Khaliq   | 22.01.2021
Pandemic year saw suicides at decade-high in Japan


Japan witnessed a decade-high surge in suicide cases last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of women and young people taking their life increased drastically in the country.

The situation was termed as “severe” by the Health Ministry.

Data released by Japan’s National Police Agency on Friday showed 20,919 people committed suicide in 2020, 3.7% up from 2019 – which is highest in the past 11 years, Kyodo News reported.

Most of the suicide cases were registered in October last year when 2,199 people ended their lives.

“It is possible the pandemic has caused various effects. In addition to supporting the economy and daily life, the government will expand consultation services and introduce support organizations to people in need,” an official of Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

However, the data showed suicides among men was dropping for over a decade now with 13,943 registered last year, while suicides among women increased 14.5% to 6,976, i.e. highest in past years.

The 2009 global financial crisis had resulted in the rise in suicides in the country which is facing an over-ageing population.

Another worrying factor in the country is that suicides among the student community also witnessed an increase with 440 recorded last year – the first time since 1986 when 401 such cases were registered.

Japanese experts believe job insecurity amid the pandemic “as well as the increased burden on child care, as more people stay at home to prevent coronavirus infection, tends to cause more stress for women than men.”

“Women are more susceptible to changes in their lives caused by the pandemic as they have more non-regular employment than men and the weight of housework and childcare is heavy,” said Takanori Hirano, an associate professor of sociology at Momoyama Gakuin University based in Osaka province.

He added that the student community “apparently felt stressed after schools restarted following a temporary closure due to the virus.”

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