The Strategist

Japan loses $ 4 bln annually because of suicides

05/05/2017 - 15:36

About 60 Japanese commit suicide every day, mainly because of problems at work and in their families. Japan annually loses more than $ 4 billion due to suicides.

Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe/
Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe/
The World Health Organization says that Japan is one of the three leading countries by number of citizens who commit suicide. More cases of suicides are recorded only in Finland and South Korea. 

However, the number of suicides in the country is gradually decreasing. In 1997 this indicator increased sharply - from 24,391 to 32,863 cases a year, and had been exceeding the 30,000 mark until. By 2016, this indicator dropped to 22 thousand.

According to a study by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, suicides deprive the economy of more than $ 4 billion annually, NHK reports.

Specialists of the Ministry calculated the amount of damage, based on the economic contribution for the 70 years of work that could be made by 23 thousand Japanese between the ages of 15 and 69 who committed suicide in 2015.

The researchers believe that the surge in suicides at the end of noughties is linked to the global economic crisis. A large number of people, especially men who lost their jobs, could not cope with the blow, as a result of which they committed suicide, the report says. A similar picture was observed in 1998.

It is worth noting that an average Japanese citizen considers failure to achieve or loss of financial well-being one of the common reasons for take their own life. 4850 young Japanese committed suicide for economic reasons in 2008, and this was the highest suicide rate among men in Japan since 1978. In 2012, a total of 1138 men aged 40 committed suicide because of financial reasons.

It is noteworthy that young people usually choose to end their life because of the inability to find a job, writes the World Health Observatory. The fact is that the employment practice is quite peculiar in Japan. Many companies, as a rule, recruit only students who have yet to graduate from university or college. Recruiting, open exclusively for entrants, ends with the fact that graduates cannot qualify for these vacancies. Thus, people who could not find a job while they were studying, face even greater difficulties in finding a job having a diploma in their hands.

Another feature of Japan is social isolation. The Japanese, for the most part, do not have excessive acquaintances, which also increases suicidal tendencies, experts say. "Socially-adapted people can easily discuss their problems with others, thereby alleviating suffering", the report says. 

Japanese social isolation often takes a very radical form. People become scared of social contacts and stay at home, contacting with family members only. We are talking about the so-called hikikomori. According to the Stockholm Institute’s estimates, there are 1 million of such people in the country. Japanese government departments call a more modest figure - just over 0.5 million people (or 1.6% of the population)

Talking to a stranger can cause them panic and suffer from uncontrollable anxiety attacks. Frequent symptoms are also depression, painful infantilism and paranoia. Such people do not have a job and depend on their relatives. Annually, Japan loses $ 1.7 trillion ($ 14.8 billion) at home.

According to statistics, suicide is more often committed by men who have health issues, problems at work or family difficulties. To solve the problem and minimize economic damage, in 2005 the Japanese authorities established an organization for prevention of suicides. In 2006, the government adopted a law on suicide prevention, and in 2007 the government developed a plan called Jisatsusougoutaisakutaikou.

The program is supposed to encourage the Japanese to participate in social programs, as well as giving special attention to people whose relatives had previously committed suicide, and even more so for those who had already made unsuccessful attempts to end their life.

In addition, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there is a service that helps young people get a job, and middle-aged men – to quickly socialize at work.