Suicides and depression cost Japan the equivalent of $32 billion last year, according to government officials there. The staggeringly high figure was arrived at by calculating the cost of treatment and the lost earnings of the 32,000 people who killed themselves in Japan last year, the BBC reports. The country has one of the world's highest suicide rates—more than twice as high as America's—and there have been more than 30,000 suicides a year for over a decade.
The high suicide rate is a product of and a partial cause of the country's long economic stagnation, say experts. "It would be impossible to eradicate all suicides at once, but that would have a much bigger impact" on the economy than a huge stimulus package the government plans to announce this week, one Japanese economist tells BusinessWeek. The Japanese government has launched an anti-suicide task force that will provide counseling for small business owners and people who have trouble with debt. (Read more Japan stories.)