TOKYO (majirox news) — In January this year, the Japanese Cabinet Office began a survey of Japanese aged 20 years old or over, and this month announced the shocking results. One in four of those surveyed reported that they had seriously contemplated killing themselves – an increase of between 4 and 5 percent since the last time such a survey was taken.
Japan’s youth are the most likely to think about killing themselves, according to the results of the survey. Overall, one quarter of the Japanese population appear to have considered suicide.
“The main reason for the increase is because Japan is in a long recession and its influences, especially to young people,” said Kaoru Saito, director for Policy of Suicide Prevention (Cabinet Office). “Because when they finish college or university they can’t find jobs. It means they can’t live by themselves in Japanese society. At the same time, their families can’t support them anymore because of the long recession.”
Of course, not everyone who thinks about killing himself or herself takes the final fatal step. There are different ways of coping with the stress.
“The survey said that some overcame the situation by talking to their families, friends and colleagues at work, others by taking a rest or having a consultations,” Saito said.
A Buddhist nun who offers consultation to more than 140 suicidally-minded sufferers each month says that this trend is not simply the result of economic woes.
“The biggest reason for me is loneliness,” Eka Shibata said. “They feel lonely because their teachers, parents or neighbors always say, ‘do your work, homework, or job by yourself.’ It means they always have to increase it. But if it is impossible, they get very depressed and lose their meaning of life.”
One case recently came to her attention.
“One young woman I talked with was thinking about suicide because her husband killed himself six months ago as he was overworked in his company.” Shibata said. “And now she is very depressed, but she has a beautiful child that she cannot leave, so she is in a tough situation.”
Although she and Saito say that everyone should help those who feel that life is getting too tough to live, they point out that admitting suicidal feelings in Japanese society is an admission of weakness and a cause for shame. Saito refers to Japanese society as a “shame culture.”
The recommendation is that we should be aware of the problems of those around us, and tactfully discuss them, without directly enquiring about suicidal thoughts or feelings.
As a result of the survey, the government is working with a number of concerned groups and reevaluating their tactics with regard to suicide prevention.