TOKYO – Suicides by young people in Japan rose to their highest level in three decades in 2017, according to new figures released by the government.
Japan has a persistent problem with suicides, although the number has been declining overall. But child suicides have risen recently. Last year 250 children in elementary, middle and high schools died by suicide, the highest number since 1986, said data released last month by the Education Ministry.
According to the Education Ministry survey of schools, most of the students did not leave any explanation. Of those who did, they cited worries about the future, family problems and bullying.
According to the Welfare Ministry, suicide was the leading cause of death last year among 15- to 19-year-olds.
Experts say that schools are not well equipped to cope with mental illness among students and, in general, education about mental illness is lacking. “In Japan, your biggest problem is that there is a greater stigma about mental health problems than in other countries,” said Vickie Skorji, director of the crisis hotline at TELL in Tokyo. “You’re most likely to get bullied, and less likely to get support services and understanding from your parents.”