Japan Data

Child Suicides at Highest Rate Ever in Japan

Society Education

While the overall number of suicides in Japan is dropping, there has been a worrying rise among young people.

A total of 332 Japanese elementary, junior high, and high school students died by suicide in 2018, according to research by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. This was an increase of 33% from the previous year and the highest number since 1988, when the data was first calculated with the current method. The figure included 227 high school students, 100 junior high students, and 5 elementary school students, with high school student suicides showing a year-on-year rise of 42%. Of the 332 students, 193 were boys and 139 were girls.

The total number of suicides in Japan (National Police Agency annual totals) peaked at 34,427 in 2003 and then began to fall. From 2010, this figure has fallen for nine years straight. In contrast, despite decreased student numbers due to the shrinking birthrate, child suicides are on the rise. In 2006, the suicide ratio was 1.2 per 100,000 children, whereas by 2018 this had more than doubled to 2.5.

Among the reasons for suicide (multiple possible), particularly high were family disagreements at 12.3% and being reprimanded by their parents at 9.0%, while bullying remained at a lower ratio of 2.7%. However, the reason for nearly 60% of child suicides was unknown, so it is not clear what is driving young people to take their own lives.

Reason for Suicide (Multiple responses possible)

Total Percentage
Family disagreements 41 12.3%
Reprimanded by parents 30 9.0%
Academic underachievement 17 5.1%
Worries over future prospects 28 8.4%
Issues with teachers 5 1.5%
Issues with friends (excluding bullying) 16 4.8%
Bullying 9 2.7%
Despair caused by illness 9 2.7%
Despair 21 6.3%
Issues with the opposite sex 22 6.6%
Mental disorders 24 7.2%
Unknown 194 58.4%
Other 18 5.4%

Compiled by Nippon.com based on 2018 MEXT Survey on problematic behavior and non-attendance of school children.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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