For the first time in more than a decade, the number of suicides has risen again in Japan, in a trend researchers are highlighting due to the coronavirus pandemic. The data also reveals a gender perspective: suicides among men have decreased and among women they have increased.
According to a survey released by the Ministry of Health on Friday (22), 20,919 deaths in this category were recorded last year – 750 more cases than in 2019.
It is as if, every 25 minutes, someone commits suicide in Japan, a country that has a long history of problems with the practice, seen in a distorted way as a way to avoid shame or dishonor.
In the first half of 2020, the numbers appeared to maintain the steady decline seen over the past 15 years, including ten straight years of decline since 2009. Since July, however, the suicide curve has started to rise amid emotional and financial stress. caused. by the pandemic.
In all, 13,943 men and 6,976 women have taken their lives in Japan during the past year. For men, the number represents a decrease of 1% from 2019, while the rate for women marks a growth of 14.5%.
According to activists and researchers, one of the probable causes is the increase in unemployment among women, more numerous in precarious jobs, especially in the hotel and restaurant industry, two sectors very affected by the economic crisis caused by Covid- 19.
“The painful trend of increasing suicides among women continues,” a spokesperson for the Japanese Ministry of Health told a press conference. “Suicides are the result of many different things, but I think we can say with certainty that there has been an impact of the coronavirus on economic and lifestyle factors.”
October was the worst month, according to figures released Friday, with 2,153 recorded suicides – the highest monthly total in more than five years. That month, 851 women committed suicide, an increase of 82.6% from October 2019.
For many years, seeking psychological help has been a stigmatized practice in Japan, as if it is a sign of weakness. After peaking at 34,427 cases in 2003, Japanese lawmakers, however, developed a comprehensive prevention program, which was launched four years later.
Through a combination of government and business efforts, which included identifying at-risk groups, expanding access to mental health care, and limiting overtime – overwork is considered an aggravating factor – suicides fell to just over 20,000 in 2019, the lowest level since 1978.
For Professor Michiko Ueda of Waseda University in Tokyo, the survey data characterizes an inflection point. “Certainly the coronavirus is an important factor [para o aumento de suicídios], and the numbers are expected to increase further this year, ”the expert told AFP news agency.
Another concern of the authorities is the increase in suicide rates among young Japanese. According to the survey, more than 300 children and adolescents up to the age of 18 committed suicide between April and November last year, a number which represents a 30% increase from the same period of 2019.
According to a spokesperson for the Tokyo Suicide Prevention Center, young people have become a particularly vulnerable audience because they are more worried about the future and suffer more from the deterioration of social relations.
Talking about wanting to die, having no purpose, being a burden to others or feeling trapped or in unbearable pain Seeking ways to kill yourself Using more alcohol or drugs Being anxious, agitated or irresponsible Sleeping too much or too little Feeling isolated Showing anger or talking about revenge Having extreme mood swings
What to do
Do not leave the person alone Take guns, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects Take the person to specialized assistance Call help channels
is the phone number of the Life Valuation Center (CVV). It is also possible to receive emotional support via the Internet (www.cvv.org.br), email, chat and Skype 24 hours a day