Suicide rates among men, women up in Japan

Suicide rates among men, women up in Japan

Troubling trend found among boys, girls attending elementary, junior high, and high schools, shows Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare data from year 2022

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – Amid a record fall in birth rates in 2022, Japan has seen an increase in the number of men and women committing suicide in the same year, which officials believe is due to the COVID-19 pandemic fallout.

Government data released on Tuesday showed that the number of women committing suicide increased by 7,135 in 2022, 67 more than the previous year.

This was the third year in a row that more women committed suicide in Japan, revealed the data compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and released by the National Police Agency.

“Overall, the number of people taking their own lives in Japan increased 874 to 21,881, with male suicides seeing the first increase in 13 years at 14,746 cases (in 2022), up 807 from the year before,” the government data showed.

“The number of suicides per 100,000 people increased to 17.5, up 0.8 from 2021.”

The troubling trend was also found among boys and girls attending elementary, junior high, and high schools.

“The rise in the numbers could be attributable to the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in 2020,” a ministry official working on measures to prevent suicides told Tokyo-based Kyodo News.

“We will closely monitor the situation and deepen our analysis, including the impact of the coronavirus,” the official added.

The rise in suicides among Japanese people comes as the country last year recorded the biggest fall in new births.

The number of babies dropped below 800,000 for the first time since records began in 1899, according to data released by the Health Ministry last month.

It is also the seventh consecutive year that the number of babies born in the country has decreased.

In January, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his government will prioritize policies aimed at facilitating child-rearing, which is “the most effective investment for the future.”

Kishida warned the nation of around 126 million people, also grappling with an aging population, was “on the brink of losing its social function due to its rapidly declining birthrate.”

Vowing to reverse the country’s falling birthrate, the premier said his government will work to “create a children-first economy and society” through the Children and Families Agency, a new governmental body expected to be launched in April.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government on Tuesday approved a bill to "recognize a sexual violation even in the absence of physical violence or coercion and raise the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16."

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