Japan vows to cut suicide rate by 20% over 10 years

Posted by Gulbenkian

Japan vows to cut suicide rate by 20% over 10 years

High-profile suicides are a common occurrence in Japan, where ending one's own life is still seen by some as the ultimate expression of atonement, rooted in the samurai belief in the value of ritual suicide.

Recent political and corporate history is replete with cases in which death appeared the most honourable course of action. Only last month, Dr Yoshiki Sasai, deputy director of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology, hanged himself after becoming embroiled in an ongoing scandal over stem cell research.

But for every suicide involving a public figure there are many more among ordinary Japanese people, and for reasons that resonate in other countries.

The bursting of Japan's economic bubble prompted an end to lifetime employment, and was blamed for the spike in suicides in the late 1990s from around 25,000 a year to around 32,000.

Depression, serious illness – particularly among the elderly – and debt have also been cited as common causes of suicide.

Read The Guardian story here.

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