TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Roughly one in four Japanese people have considered committing suicide, with women slightly more prone to such thoughts than men, the health ministry said Tuesday.
In a survey released by the ministry that day, 23.6 percent of respondents considered suicide, up 0.2 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in 2012. By sex, the ratio stood at 25.6 percent for women and 21.4 percent for men.
By age, people in their 50s were more prone to suicidal thoughts than those in other age brackets, with 30. 1 percent, followed by those in their 30s with 28.7 percent, those in their 40s with 24.3 percent, those in their 20s with 23.0 percent, those in their 60s with 20.2 percent, and people aged at least 70 years old with 19.1 percent.
Among the respondents, 18.9 percent said they had thought of suicide in the past year.
Asked how they were able to overcome their suicidal thoughts in a multiple-answer question, 36.7 percent said they diverted their minds by shifting their focuses on hobbies or work, while 32.1 percent said they confided in family members, friends and co-workers.
The survey also asked whether they knew about public suicide prevention measures and services. Some 6.9 percent of the respondents said they were aware of the nationwide suicide prevention phone service, while 5.0 percent said they knew about the weeklong and monthlong national campaigns for suicide prevention.
Since people's awareness level of public measures and services for suicide prevention remains low, the Cabinet plans to bolster steps with a plan to approve the outline of new measures against suicide this summer.
"We would like to further promote notification of consultation services and development of mental health measures at workplace," an official of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.
The survey was conducted last October on 3,000 people aged 20 or older, with valid responses received from 2,019 of them.
According to separate data from the National Police Agency, the number of suicides in Japan totaled 21,764 in 2016, decreasing for the seventh consecutive year.