More people are dying from suicide in Japan than the COVID-19 pandemic this year, new data reveals.
A statistics report for October showed 2,153 people died from suicide in Japan while 2,087 people succumbed to the pandemic as of Nov. 27, according to CNN.
“We didn’t even have a lockdown, and the impact of Covid is very minimal compared to other countries … but still we see this big increase in the number of suicides,” Waseda University associate professor Michiko Ueda, said. “That suggests other countries might see a similar or even bigger increase in the number of suicides in the future.”
In total, there are 17,000 deaths linked to suicide this year to date, CBS News reported.
At 16 per 100,000, Japan currently has the highest suicide rate among the G7 countries. Japan plans to lower that number by 2026 to 13 per 100,000. In 2018, the U.S. suicide rate was 14 per 100,000.
Japan plans to increase its suicide prevention funding by adding $10 million to its $24 million budget.
In October, women’s suicides increased by almost 83% while men’s rose to 23%. One possible idea behind it is that women make up a high percentage of the part-time working force, where layoffs often happen.
The current pandemic is exacerbating the mental health issues Japan has been facing for years. Among the factors in the rise of suicide numbers in Japan include prolonged lockdowns, isolation from family and loved ones, unemployment, financial concerns and a lack of school structures.
“We need to seriously confront reality,” Katsunobu Kato, a chief government spokesman, said as they announce new measures to help people through suicide hotlines and social media.