Suicides top 30,000 for 14th consecutive year

January 11, 2012

Some 30,513 people committed suicide in Japan in 2011, the 14th straight year for the figure to top 30,000 but representing a decline of 1,177 from 2010, the National Police Agency said Jan. 10.

The number of suicides fell from the previous year in 34 of all 47 prefectures, including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The overall figure declined for the second year in a row.

By prefecture, Tokyo had the largest number of suicides, at 3,100, followed by Osaka's 1,899, Kanagawa's 1,824, Saitama's 1,645 and Aichi's 1,630. Men accounted for 68 percent of all suicides.

Last year, the trend was slightly different than in earlier years.

From 2008 to 2010, the number of suicides spiked in March and again in October or November. Analysts noted that data on corporate management and dismissals tend to be released in those months.

In 2011, however, the number of suicides peaked in May and continued falling through December.

"The remarkably large numbers in May and June may have to do with news reports on the suicide of an entertainer," said Yasuyuki Shimizu, leader of the Tokyo-based nonprofit group Lifelink, which is engaged in suicide prevention activities. "Although suicides decreased in number from the previous year, we should not forget that a situation that is forcing 30,000 people into suicides every year is unusual.

"There are concerns that the risk of suicide may rise in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We are not in a situation to be optimistic," Shimizu said.

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