Sunday, January 9, 2011

Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 13th straight year in 2010+

LEAD: Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 13th straight year in 2010+

The number of people who committed suicide in Japan totaled 31,560 in topping 30,000 for the 13th straight year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report on Friday.

But the number declined 3.9 percent from the previous year, or a decrease of 1,285 cases, hitting the second-lowest level over the past 10 years, according to the report.

Since assuming power in September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan- led government has taken steps to help those at risk of suicide.

The government's anti-suicide campaigns last year appear to have had some effect as the number of people who committed suicide declined in the months immediately following the campaigns, falling 15.9 percent in April and 13.5 percent in October from a year earlier.

In November, however, the number of cases rose 10.0 percent, partially because of the prolonged economic downturn.

The number of people committing suicide declined for six months in a row in the first half of last year but rose and fell in successive months.

While 2008 and 2009 saw some months in which over 3,000 people committed suicide, the number of cases remained below 3,000 each month last year.

Of those who committed suicide last year, 22,178 were men and 9,382 women, continuing the trend for a higher number of cases among men.

The government set up an emergency strategy team at the Cabinet Office in autumn 2009 in concert with civic groups and doctors working on suicide prevention.

The team worked on measures to be implemented by related ministries and agencies, including expanding public counters where people can get advice about mental health and debt problems, and compiling region-by- region suicide prevention steps based on relevant police statistics.

The government set up a task force involving Cabinet ministers last September to carry out the measures

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