Japan’s suicide rate accelerating towards record level

The rise of Japan’s suicide rate is accelerating, with the number of suicides in June totaling 2,822, the National Police Agency (NPA) announced; partly as a result of the recession, it’s believed.

The total number of suicides during the first half of 2009 was 17,076, up by 768 compared to the same period last year. According to the NPA, 2,660 people took their own lives in January 2009, 2,482 in February, 3,084 in March, 3,048 in April, 2,980 in May and 2,822 in June, with each figure showing a year-on-year increase from 2008.

Males accounted for about 72 percent of all the suicides during the first half of 2009. The number increased by 712 compared to the same period last year, totaling 12,222 cases.

Annual suicide numbers have been exceeding 30,000 cases for 11 consecutive years since 1998. This year, it is projected to reach 34,152 cases — just shy of the 2003 record figure of 34,427 — if the monthly average remains constant at 2,846.

By area, Tokyo had the most suicides with 1,569. The area with the least was Tottori, with just 85.

“The soaring suicide rate reflects the government’s inability to provide necessary assistance to those needing help,” said Yasuyuki Shimizu, a representative from Lifelink, a nonprofit organization engaged in suicide prevention.