Japan launches anti-suicide drive

Government looks to cut rate from more than 30,000 suicides a year.

    Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's cabinet moved to arrest the country's alarmingly high suicide rates [EPA]

    Friday's cabinet decision comes just weeks after Toshikatsu Matsuoka, Japan's farm minister, killed himself on May 28.
    Matsuoka, 62, hanged himself in his apartment as a parliamentary inquiry prepared to look into a series of scandals in which he had been implicated.

    Students and senior citizens were identified as
    the most vulnerable groups [EPA]

    Suicides in Japan passed the 30,000 mark in 1998, when a long economic slump forced massive corporate restructuring that left many people bankrupt or jobless, driving many men in their 40s and 50s to take their own lives.
    Last year, a total of 32,155 Japanese took their own lives, a 1.2 per cent drop from 2005, but students came out on top with 886 suicides, the highest number ever recorded by the National Police Agency.
    Nearly half of the people who took their own lives were unemployed, the agency said in its latest report released on Thursday.
    The new measures called for more support for suicide survivors and victims' families.
    It includes mental health support services such as counselling at workplaces, a network of community psychiatrists, and public awareness campaigns to reduce prejudice against mental illnesses.
    It also includes a call greater efforts to develop software to filter websites promoting group suicides and beef up telephone hotline services for distressed youths.
    Official alarm over the issue has been heightened by the increasing incidence of group suicide pacts arranged among strangers meeting over the internet.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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