Japan saw a spike in suicides last month that registered greater than the total number of people who have died on the island nation from the coronavirus pandemic for the entire year.
“In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date,” CNN reported. “The monthly number of Japanese suicides rose to 2,153 in October, according to Japan’s National Police Agency. As of Friday, Japan’s total Covid-19 toll was 2,087, the health ministry said.”
The Japan Times reported last year that the total number of suicides for 2019 had fallen below 20,000 for the first time since the nation started keeping such records in 1978. The decline in suicides was attributed to an economy that was getting stronger and an effort by officials to reduce suicides.
“Japan witnessed a surge in suicides in 1998, when unemployment linked to the bankruptcies of corporate behemoths such as securities firm Yamaichi Securities Co. and the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank led to many middle-aged men taking their lives,” The Japan Times added. “The number peaked in 2003 at 34,427 and has fallen every year since 2009.”
The Washington Post reported that in South Korea there has been “a 43 percent increase in suicides by women in their 20s in the first half of 2020 compared with the same period last year.”
The Post added:
Japan and South Korea are among the few countries to issue current data on suicides, with most countries taking a year or two to issue their numbers. Experts worry that the emerging trends in the two countries could be an early warning for the rest of the world as the pandemic and lockdowns take a toll on mental health.
Research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the summer found that 1 in 10 respondents had seriously considered suicide the previous month, twice the rate observed in 2018. The rate among those 18-24 years old in the survey was 1 in 4, the CDC reported. There is also some evidence that the rate of suicides among U.S. military personnel has risen.
Over the summer, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the threat of suicide, drugs, and the seasonal flu represented a “far greater threat” to kids than the coronavirus.
“We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID,” Redfield said at the time while talking about the need to reopen schools. “We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”
“So this is why I keep coming back for the overall social being of individuals,” he continued, “is let’s all work together and find out how we can find common ground to get these schools open in a way that people are comfortable and their safe. And if there is a need for investment and resources, just like there is a need for some of the underprivileged children that are probably better served if they have certain comorbidities to do homeschooling, they need the access to be able to have the computer and the internet to do that.”