Nearly a Quarter of Japanese have Considered Suicide

Source: Japan Times, March 21

Roughly one in four Japanese people have considered committing suicide, with women slightly more prone to such thoughts than men, the health ministry said Tuesday.

In a survey released by the ministry, 23.6 percent of respondents had considered suicide, up 0.2 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in 2012. The ratio stood at 25.6 percent for women and 21.4 percent for men. By age, people in their 50s were more prone to suicidal thoughts than those in other age brackets, at 30.1 percent, followed by those in their 30s (28.7 percent), 40s (24.3 percent), 20s (23.0 percent), 60s (20.2 percent), and people aged 70 or older (19.1 percent).

Asked how they were able to overcome their suicidal thoughts in a multiple-answer question, 36.7 percent said they shifted their focuses to hobbies or work, while 32.1 percent said they confided in family members, friends or co-workers.

The survey also asked about knowledge of public suicide prevention measures and services. About 6.9 percent of respondents said they were aware of the nationwide suicide prevention phone service, while 5 percent said they knew about week-long and month-long national campaigns for suicide prevention.

Since awareness levels of public measures and services for suicide prevention remains low, the Cabinet plans to bolster steps with a plan to approve the outline of new measures this summer. “We would like to further promote notification of consultation services and development of mental health measures at workplaces,” an official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The survey was conducted last October on 3,000 people aged 20 or older, with 2,019 valid responses. According to separate data from the National Police Agency, the number of suicides totaled 21,764 in 2016, falling for the seventh consecutive year.


4 responses to “Nearly a Quarter of Japanese have Considered Suicide

  1. It’s easy to see how a society of “saving face”, indirect communication (for instance, saying “no” directly is a no-no) and reserved emotion could contribute to this, as someone who grew up in the culture albeit one generation and an ocean away.

  2. In the latest World Happiness Report, Japan holds the fiftieth spot.
    Norway comes first, Denmark second.
    Canada is seventh and Israel eleventh.
    USA fourteenth.
    Why are Norwegians so happy, and the Japanese so unhappy?
    Why aren’t Americans happier?
    Is it that in countries where financial security, accessible health care, freedom to express oneself safely and shared values abound, people enjoy life more and have a sense that life is absolutely worth living?
    Or is it something else completely different?

    By the way, from 1999 to 2010, the actual suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 increased nearly 30 percent. The largest increases were among men in their fifties, with rates rising nearly 50 percent, to 30 per 100,000. For women aged 60 to 64, rates rose 60 percent, to 7.0 per 100,000. (Wikipedia)

  3. Michael Gundy

    World Health Organization ranks the top three suicidal countries as Guyana, South Korea and Sri Lanka (I knew Sri Lanka was high) at 44.2, 28.9 and 28.8 per 100,000. Japan comes in at 18,9 while cheery Canada is 9.8. Syria and Saudi Arabia tie at 0.4. I fail to see a connecting thread considering culture, happiness or the quality of the statistics.

  4. Elisabeth Ecker

    There is a difference between considering suicide and actually committing suicide. You really can’t compare it.