Where Children Are Killing Themselves

It's in Japan, where suicide rates are already high
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2018 3:00 PM CST
Youth Suicides Spike in Japan
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Tragic news for Japan: The nation's youth suicide rate has reached its highest point in 32 years, the New York Times reports. The government says 250 children from elementary to high-school levels killed themselves in 2017, a slight uptick from the year before in a nation already grappling with high suicide rates. Most of the children left no notes, but those who did often worried about life after graduation, while others cited bullying and family issues. Japanese officials have already noted a rise in suicides after Sept. 1, when children return to school. "The long break from school enables you to stay at home, so it's heaven for those who are bullied," a former bullying victim in Japan told CNN a few years ago. "When summer ends, you have to go back."

Experts say the nation's stigma about mental health issues doesn't help. There are also changes in family life, which used to include several generations under one roof—an arrangement less common today. "We can't expect parents or grandparents to provide the support they used to," a professor says. "And in this situation, children remain alone." Japan pledged in 2016 to cut suicides by 30%, particularly among young people, but officials say it can be hard to reach students in time, the Japan Times reports. A junior high school apologized this summer for failing to help a 13-year-old bullied into taking her own life. "The report is filled with my daughter's wish to eradicate bullying," says her father, per Asahi. "I am grateful." (In America, a serial killer took his own life after getting bad news.)

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