The number of suicides in Japan has topped 21,000 in 2020, the first year-on-year increase since 2009, the year after the global financial crisis triggered by Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy.
The numbers published by the health and welfare ministry show that 21,081 people took their own lives in 2020. The figure is up 912, or 4.5 percent, from 2019.
The data show that 14,055 men committed suicide, down 23 from 2019, while the number of women who killed themselves has shown an increase of 935, or 15 percent, to 7,026.
Suicides among the young have increased significantly. The data say that 311 young people under 20 committed suicide, up 44 percent. And 837 people in their 20s killed themselves, an increase of 32 percent.
More school-age children in elementary, junior high and senior high schools killed themselves in 2020. A total of 499 deaths are recorded, up 25 percent. It’s the highest figure since data tracking began in 1978.
Ministry officials say they believe the coronavirus pandemic could be one of the causes as it makes people feel more apprehensive.
An expert on public policies and suicide says the impact of the coronavirus on the economy and daily activities may have contributed to the increase in suicide.
Waseda University Associate Professor Ueda Michiko said she is worried about a dire situation where many female non-regular workers are losing jobs and more school children are killing themselves.
She said the negative impact on the economy will continue even after the lifting of the state of emergency.
She added that it is important to create a society where people in need can ask for help and a system is in place to support people in finding jobs and getting consultations.
She also said that society as a whole needs to lend a helping hand to those in need.