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Japan records 20,919 suicides in 2020, 1st increase in 11 years

Central Government Building No. 5, which houses the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, is seen in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- A total of 20,919 people took their own lives in Japan in 2020, 750 more than during the previous year, preliminary figures released on Jan. 22 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show.

    The number of suicides in Japan had been falling each year since 2010. The increase in 2020 marked the first rise in the figure in 11 years. It is possible the economic downturn from the spread of the COVID-19 and the worsening of household circumstances contributed to the increase.

    A total of 13,943 of the people who took their own lives last year were men, a drop of 135 from the previous year. It was the 11th year in a row for male suicides to decline. The number of women who killed themselves, however, rose to 6,976, up 885 from the previous year and the first increase in two years.

    Calculated by head of population, 16.6 out of every 100,000 people took their own lives in Japan in 2020.

    The statistics compiled by the health ministry were based on suicide data from the National Police Agency. Until 1997, the yearly number of suicides in Japan had hovered around 20,000-plus per year, but the figure topped 30,000 for 14 straight years from 1998. In 2003 it hit a record high of 34,427, but has remained below 30,000 since 2012.

    (Japanese original by Takuya Murata, Lifestyle and Medical News 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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