In Japan, in all of 2020, suicide took more lives last month than Covid did.
Government figures show that 2,153 people died from suicide in October, while the country’s coronavirus death toll is actually 2,087 for the year, CNN reported.
Although Japan suffers from one of the world’s highest suicide rates (18.5 per 100,000 population, almost twice the 10.6 per 100,000 global average over the past decade, figures have been slowly decreasing. Last year, for the first time since the health authorities started keeping statistics in 1978, the annual toll dropped to 20,000.
But the pandemic’s arrival early last year reversed that pattern, especially among women. Though more men were still killed by suicide, the rate among women grew four times faster (83 percent) between October of this year and last year than among men (22 percent) during the same period.
And this is in a pandemic-relatively sheltered region.
“We didn’t really have a lockdown, and the impact of Covid is very minimal relative to other regions,” Professor Michiko Ueda of Waseda University, a suicide specialist in Tokyo, told CNN. “But still we see this big increase in the number of suicides. That indicates other countries might see a similar or even bigger growth in the number of suicide attempts in the future.”
Long working hours, school distress, social alienation, and a societal stigma surrounding mental health problems have all been identified as reasons of the high suicide rate in Japan, according to the study.
The rising rates of women may be attributed to the fact that they make up more of the part-time workers in the pandemic’s hardest-hit sectors, including hotels, food service, and retail.