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COVID-19 patients urged to seek help as Tokyo mom kills self in fear of spread to family

A stethoscope is seen in this file photo. (Getty)

TOKYO -- A woman in her 30s who was recuperating at home in the capital with a coronavirus infection was found to have killed herself on Jan. 15, according to individuals connected with the case.

    The woman lived with her husband and daughter, and it was reported that both of them had also been infected. She was said to have been distressed at the thought she may have passed on the virus to her daughter.

    On the morning of Jan. 22, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told a group of reporters it had been "a truly regrettable incident, which made me feel strongly that there's also a need for mental health care for people infected with the coronavirus. To stop what's happened from occurring, I want to look into what kind of improvements we can make."

    Seiei Muto, the director of nonprofit organization Tokyo mental health square, which engages in suicide prevention efforts, said, "We do consultations over social media, but we get a lot of people who've been infected with the coronavirus coming to us to talk.

    "People who are infected don't open up about their concerns, they become isolated, and their feelings of guilt become stronger. If they get like that, they can end up attempting suicide. It's important for family members and others close by to reach out to them, and it's important also that infected people, their family, friends, and even people who work with them speak to occupational physicians and others. We don't want people to be alone and gripped by their troubles."

    Yasuyuki Shimizu, representative of Tokyo-based nonprofit organization "Suicide prevention support center Life Link," said, "Last year suicides by women rose, and among them were more suicides by women living with other people.

    "Behind some of these is domestic violence from family members, and women taking care of young and elderly relatives who are forced not just to deal with the burden of their own health and lives alone, but also those of their family members. It's possible some people in those kinds of situations felt pushed to the edge.

    "People who are very earnest and have a strong sense of responsibility tend to refrain from seeking help due to thoughts that they might be making trouble for others, but in the coronavirus crisis there are many individuals with concerns and issues, so I want people to seek help from those around them as soon as possible with feelings that we're all in the same boat."

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Suyeong Kim, City News Department, and Hiroko Michishita, Special Reports Department)

    ***

    -- Suicide prevention hotline in Japan with English support

    TELL Japan (English): https://telljp.com/

    Telephone hotline: 03-5774-0992 (Daily)

    Online chat: https://telljp.com/lifeline/tell-chat/

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

    A selection of emergency numbers with multilingual support is also provided at the bottom of their home page.

    *Operating hours for the telephone hotline and online chat depend on the day and are subject to change. Check the Facebook page linked below for up-to-date information:

    https://www.facebook.com/telljapan/

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