Japan Records Lowest Suicide Rate Since Statistics Were First Kept in 1978Society
There were 20,598 suicides in Japan in 2018, a year-on-year decrease of 723 persons or 3.4%. This marks the ninth consecutive year-on-year decrease and the first time in 37 years for the total to fall below 21,000. Roughly twice as many men as women took their lives in 2018, with 14,125 suicides among men and 6,473 among women. This represents a year-on-year decrease of 701 and 22, respectively. The ratio of suicide deaths per 100,000 people declined by 0.5 persons to 16.3, the lowest rate since statistics were first kept in 1978.
The suicide rate was highest in Yamanashi Prefecture, at 24.8, while Tokushima Prefecture had the lowest rate, at 12.0. Meanwhile, the rates in Tokyo and Osaka were 16.4 and 13.7, respectively.
An analysis conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare found a disproportionately high percentage of middle-aged persons among the 19,030 suicides that occurred from January to November 2018. There were most suicides among people in their fifties, at 3,225, followed by those in their forties at 3,222 and in their sixties at 2,811. Although all the age brackets from 20 upward saw a year-on-year decrease in suicides, the total among those 19 and under rose year-on-year in 2018 by 16 suicides to 543.
Annual suicides in Japan remained around 20,000–25,000 until 1997, but exceeded 30,000 from 1998 to 2011, peaking at 34,427 in 2003. Suicides have decreased below 30,000 in the years since 2012, against the backdrop of an economic recovery and bolstered efforts across Japan to strengthen suicide-prevention measures such as consultation systems.
In 2017, the government formulated its General Principles of Suicide Prevention Policy. It aims to reduce the suicide rate to 30% or more below 2015 levels by 2026, and in pursuing that aim it will be necessary to focus on youth in particular.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)