Shiho et al's Suicide in Japan-Present Condition and Prevention Measures

Shiho et al's Suicide in Japan-Present Condition and Prevention Measures

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Research Trends Suicide in Japan: Present Condition and Prevention Measures Yamashita Shiho 1 , Takizawa Tohru 2 , Sakamoto Shinji 3 , Taguchi Manabu 4 , Takenoshita Yuka 4 , Tanaka Eriko 6 , Sugawara Ikuko 7 , and Watanabe Naoki 8 1 National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2 Hachinohe Junior College, 3 Nihon University, 4 Saint Marianna University, 6 The Institute for Science of Labor, 7 The University of Tokyo, 8 Aomori Prefecture Mental Health and Welfare Center, all Japan Abstract. This article introduces the reader to present conditions and suicide prevention measures in Japan. The suicide rate has increased gradually since the early 1990s, reaching a postwar peak in 1998. The number of suicides has remained at about 30,000 every year since 1998. Middle-aged (55–59 years) and elderly men have especially high suicide rates. In 2002, The Council of Learned People on Measures Against Suicides (organized by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare) released its report on national suicide prevention strategies. Although national suicide prevention strategies have just begun to be established, some prefectures or regions have undertaken unique suicide prevention measures. Keywords: Japan, present conditions of suicide, suicide prevention measures Introduction In Japan, the number of deaths due to suicides has been increasing and exceeded 30,000 in 1998. This represents about three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents. The number of suicides has remained at about 30,000 every year since then. Although suicide rates had traditionally been highest among elderly males, the suicide rate of middle-aged males has been higher since 1998. Thus, the suicide problem is one affecting all members of society in Japan, and it is important to engage in effective measures for suicide prevention. Nonetheless, there are some misun- derstandings about suicide and the traditional tendency to tolerate suicide. That is, if someone commits suicide, people tend to think that it cannot be helped. Further- more, people have a strong prejudice against mental dis- orders, which raises the risk of suicidal behavior. The aim of this article is to introduce the present con- ditions and suicide prevention measures in Japan. Al- though some important suicide prevention measures have been instituted in some prefectures, such efforts have not been fully explained to foreign countries. This paper contains useful information to help understand the state of suicide and suicide prevention measures in Ja- pan. The Present Condition of Suicide in Japan The Suicide Rate According to The Vital Statistics of the Japanese Minis- try of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW), the annual suicide rate in 2002 was 23.8 per 100,000 (male 35.2, female 12.8). The rate in 2002 was an increase of 1.7% from 2001. Approximately 70% of the suicides were by males As for the variation of the suicide rate, Japan experi- enced a postwar peak in 1998; an increase of 35.2% from
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Shiho et al's Suicide in Japan-Present Condition and Prevention Measures

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