Suicide Claimed More Japanese Lives in 30 Days than 10 Months of COVID-19
November 16, 2020
Japan has managed its coronavirus pandemic far better than many Western nations, keeping deaths below 2,000 nationwide in the last 10 months. However, according to provisional statistics from the National Police Agency, suicides claimed the lives of 2,153 citizens in the month of October alone, marking the fourth straight month of increase.
“We need to seriously confront reality,” chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato stated this week, announcing increased efforts to counsel potential victims via suicide hotlines and social media outlets.
Japan has the highest suicide rate among the world’s wealthy G-7 nations, at 16 per 100,000 citizens. The suicide rate in the United States is 14 per 100,000 in 2018. Japan had hoped to lower its rate to around 13 per 100,000 by 2026, a level comparable to other developed countries, according to CBS News.
Researchers blame deteriorating mental health in Japan exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Women have borne the brunt of job losses and insecurity due to the pandemic in the country. As a result, female suicides surged 80% this year.
Earlier this year, US researchers warned that the pandemic could trigger at least 75,000 “deaths of despair,” stemming from unemployment, lack of social contact, and other mental health stressors, according to CBS News.
“We’re in the midst of a mental health epidemic right now, and I think it’s only gonna get worse,” Dr. Vivian Pender, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, stated to CBS “Sunday Morning.”
About 53% of American adults said in a recent survey that their mental health had suffered because of the ongoing pandemic. Prescription for antidepressants rose 14% after the initial outbreak.
“I think in a way the worst is yet to come, in terms of mental health. There’s gonna be tremendous grief and mourning for all the lost people, and the lost opportunities, and the lost dreams and hopes that people had,” Dr. Pender continued.