Japan suicide rates shoot up during second wave of pandemic

Shweta Sharma
·2 min read
<p>Aokigahara forest lies on the on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji and in recent years has become known as one of the world’s most prevalent suicide sites.</p> (Getty)

Aokigahara forest lies on the on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji and in recent years has become known as one of the world’s most prevalent suicide sites.

(Getty)

The second wave of Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of people in Japan, with suicide rates shooting up among women and children, according to research by Tokyo and Hong Kong academics.

The suicide rate shot up by 16 per cent in July-October after seeing a considerable fall during the first wave when the government offered assistance to people.

During the first wave of pandemic between February to June 2020, suicides fell to 14 per cent possibly as government offered subsidies, reduced working hours, and closed schools.

The suicide rate shot up in July-October in comparison with the same period last year in Japan that has one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

“Unlike normal economic circumstances, this pandemic disproportionately affects the psychological health of children, adolescents and females (especially housewives),” the authors of the study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour said.

Suicides have remained a long-standing problem for the government in Japan. In 2016, the country had a suicide mortality rate of 18.5 per 100,000 people, only after South Korea.

The government statistics from November 2016 to October 2020 showed suicide among children burgeoned at 49 per cent in the second wave in comparison to the period after a nationwide school closure.

The fallout of pandemic was seen largely among women and children, with 37 per cent increase among females and 49 per cent rise among children and adolescents.

Women remain the most affected, possibly due to the increasing burden on working mothers and rise in reported cases of domestic violence, the report found.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, issued a Covid-19 state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures this month in an attempt to stem Covid-19 infections.

Despite the orders in place, Japan health authorities recorded a record number of infections. On Sunday, 5,759 new infections were recorded across the country, adding to the total tally of 330,715 cases.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

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