The truth about suicides in Japan

One of the most discussed topics involving Japan is its suicide rate. This raises questions like: Why do the Japanese commit suicide? Is the suicide rate in Japan really that high? How many people commit suicide in Japan per year? What is the world ranking? Is it Japan's fault? These and other questions will be answered in this article.

I personally am tired of always hearing someone use Japan's suicide rate to demean them in some way. In people's minds, Japan is the country where people commit suicide the most, and it is in 18th position in the world ranking. And luckily, every year the suicide rate in Japan has been decreasing.

I will separate this article by questions and topics, for ease of navigation we will leave an index below:

Japan is not the country with the highest number of suicides

I made it clear that each year Japan loses positions in the suicide ranking, and at the time of writing this article it is ranked 18th. Some countries like South and North Korea are among the top 5. Our neighbor Guyana has a gigantic rate becoming the first in the ranking of suicides in proportion.

European countries famous for being quiet like Poland, Hungary and Belgium have a higher suicide rate than Japan. Other countries with a higher suicide rate than Japan are Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, Angola, Mongolia and first place goes to Sri Lanka.

According to different surveys and rankings, in the year 2017, Japan's suicide rate was about 17-19 per 100,000 inhabitants (about 60 per day). That's a pretty low number compared to Sri Lanka's 35 per 100,000 people. Yet Japan is always cited as an example, why?

Suicide in Japan - Why do Japanese commit suicide?

Why is Japan famous for suicides?

There are 17 countries with a higher suicide rate than Japan, but the Japanese are still used as an example for the great factor of Japan being a first world country and one of the greatest world powers on earth. Japan is also very popular in Brazil, unlike other countries that appear in the suicide ranking.

Another main reason is that the total number of suicides in Japan is really high, reaching 21,000 people a year (2017). In rankings where the number of total suicides is used, without proportion, Japan is usually in the top 10, since its population is over 127 million people.

10 years ago (2009), the suicide rate in Japan was also much higher, exceeding 30,000 per year or 32 people per 100,000 inhabitants. At that time, Japan dominated among the top 5 in the total suicide ranking and has even appeared in the suicide rankings per 100,000 inhabitants.

There are also several cultural aspects that helped create this stereotype of Japanese suicide in the West. It's amazing how Japan has managed to lower its suicide rate over the past 10 years, even with the growing global epidemic of depression and emotional problems, not to mention the world's tendency to get worse.

Japan is very safe, so suicide becomes one of the biggest culprits for the death of Japanese people after illness. It is easier for someone to commit suicide than to die in an accident or much less to be killed by someone (something 10,000 times harder to happen).

The Japanese culture of suicide

For many in the West, taking life is a sin, atheists believe that death is the end of everything, even the bible says that the dead are conscious of absolutely nothing. And the Japanese? What do you think about death? The Japanese believe in reincarnation, death is considered as a passage to another existence, due to the buddhist influence.

I don't believe that reincarnation is a good reason not to be afraid of committing suicide, mainly because those who resort to this act want to run away from life altogether, to put an end to it. Not to mention that many Japanese, despite following Buddhist and Shinto traditions, appear to follow no religion or are atheists.

Suicide in Japan - Why do Japanese commit suicide?

For the family, relatives and people involved, the death of a loved one is a great sadness. Probably the Japanese who thinks about committing this selfish act believes that he is no longer a burden to others and is solving all his problems in this way. It is really very difficult to understand Japanese thought.

The culture of suicide in Japan is something very old and was considered by the samurai an act of honor, and even received the name seppuku or harakiri (where the belly is cut). Even as recently as World War II, kamikaze [神風] killed each other in war, with pride, honor and without any remorse.

We note that over the years the cultural influence and events contribute to a suicidal country. Japan is not heavily influenced by Christianity, so suicide is not considered a sin there. In fact, some see suicide as a way of taking responsibility for something.”

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Main causes of suicide in Japan

Probably the second world war and the conditions that the country faced around the 2000s left the suicide rate very high. Even today in the United States many commit suicide because of the second world war, especially ex-war soldiers. Perhaps this explains the decrease in suicides in the last 10 years.

The truth about suicides in Japan

Another very worrying thing in Japan is the suicide rate among young people. Even children commit suicide in Japan, often because of bullying, social pressure and lack of attention from parents and teachers. Among the main causes that lead a Japanese to commit suicide, we can list:

  • Bullying and Cyber bullying;
  • Social Isolation - Hikikomori;
  • Financial pressure and unemployment;
  • Qualifying tests in High School;
  • Having problems in the relationship;
  • Overwork;
  • The loss of a loved one;
  • Depression;

The Japanese are a bit of a perfectionist and do not accept faults, even if they are not pressured by other people, they end up putting pressure on themselves.

Of course, a lot of these things are stereotypes, emotional problems and depression affect each person differently, but unfortunately the Japanese way of thinking leads even the government to be confused and worried about this situation.

Young people are the biggest victims of suicide

Suicide is blamed for the highest number of deaths among 20-40 year olds, and possibly some elderly people who end up dying alone at home. Understanding the main reason for suicide in Japan is something complicated, we don't have the same mentality as the Japanese.

Unfortunately, young people end up being the most pressured to commit suicide in Japan. All this happens because of bullying and cyberbullying that many different students face in Japanese schools.

The truth about suicides in Japan

Those who do not commit suicide move into a worst case scenario that also results in suicide called Hikikomori. About a million young people in Japan remain in their rooms isolated from society with no desire to go to school or work.

The Qualifying Trials are some of the most difficult events the Japanese face in their lives. They need to take a test for admission to high school and another for university. Some need to study hard and even take extra classes at a preparatory school.

In Japan, back to school in the second semester is marked by tragedies. More than 18,000 children under the age of 18 committed suicide in Japan between 1972 and 2013. All because they didn't want to go back to school.

HOW TO FACE Suicide in Japan?

Of course, although alarming, we should not generalize the suicide numbers in Japan. As you know, Brazil also has a high rate of suicides very close to Japan, with a difference of 3 people per 100,000.

I think that before pointing out the suicides in Japan with a tone of criticism of the country, it's better to take the beam out of your own eye. Suicides in Japan are still a problem, but we see it decrease with each passing year. A surprising scenario in a world that tends to get worse.

It really is possible to decrease this suicide rate more and more in Japan with some changes in society. The Japanese need to stop charging themselves so much or trying too hard on frivolous things. What do you think about this matter? Let's finish here, leaving other related articles below:

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