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Japan gov't official asks public to cooperate in forming supportive society free of suicide

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato (Mainichi/Daiki Takikawa)

TOKYO -- Following an increase in suicides in Japan since July, including the deaths of several public figures, the country's top government spokesman called on the public to cooperate in creating a society where individuals can look after and support one another, at a press conference on Sept. 28.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said, "I would like people to build together a society where individuals can watch over each other while offering warm support so those who have various worries will not become isolated. I'd like to ask each member to help create a society free of suicide."

    Kato stated, "Signs pointing to an increase in the number of suicides have been seen since July, and we must take seriously this reality of many people taking their own precious lives." He added, "As the central government, we'd also like to make sure to work on setting up consultation windows, among other measures."

    Regarding the relationship between the coronavirus and risks of suicide, Kato said, "There are views saying that when people are forced to stay at home, they are more likely to experience depression and other symptoms, considering that it is quite difficult to come into contact with other people. We, as the national government, have prepared various consultation windows, including those on social media, and would like people to make use of them."

    According to the National Police Agency and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of suicides this year began increasing in July compared to the previous year. The preliminary figure for the month of August was 1,849, up 246 from the same period last year.

    Japanese actor Haruma Miura died at age 30 in July in a suspected suicide, while actresses Sei Ashina, 36, and Yuko Takeuchi, 40, also died in September in suspected suicides.

    * * *

    -- List of suicide prevention hotlines

    TELL Lifeline (English) https://telljp.com/lifeline/

    Telephone hotline: 03-5774-0992 (9 a.m.-11 p.m. daily)

    Online chat: https://telljp.com/lifeline/tell-chat/ (Fri.-Sun., 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m.)

    Counseling inquiries: 03-4550-1146 (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.)

    Counseling inquiries: 03-4550-1146 (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.)

    * * *

    Federation of Inochi no Denwa (literally "telephone of life") can be reached by phone at 0570-783-556 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. They also accept toll-free phone consultations on the 10th of every month from 8 a.m. until 8 a.m. the following day at 0120-783-556

    The federation's website is here: http://www.inochinodenwa.org/

    A list of hotlines by regions affiliated with the center can be found here: http://www.inochinodenwa.org/lifeline.php

    * * *

    The Tokyo suicide prevention center, a member of the nonprofit organization Befrienders Worldwide, can be reached every day from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Mondays and Saturdays) at 03-5286-9090, or at http://www.befrienders-jpn.org/

    (Japanese original by Kei Sato, Political News Department)

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