A record 514 children attending elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan died by suicide in 2022, topping the previous high of 499 seen in 2020, government data showed Tuesday, with the upward trend apparently fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Suicides among females also increased for the third straight year, rising 67 from the previous year to 7,135, the data showed.
Overall, the number of people taking their own lives in Japan increased 874 to 21,881, with male suicides seeing the first increase in 13 years at 14,746 cases, up 807 from the year before.
A total of 17 elementary school pupils, 143 junior high school students and 354 high school students killed themselves in 2022.
The rise in the numbers could be attributable to the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in 2020, said a ministry official working on measures to prevent suicides.
"We will closely monitor the situation and deepen our analysis, including the impact of the coronavirus," the official said.
The number of suicides per 100,000 people increased to 17.5, up 0.8 from 2021.
By age groups, those in their 50s accounted for the largest number of suicides at 4,093, up 475 from the previous year, while those in their 80s also showed a significant increase of 276 to 2,490.
Health issues were the most common reasons behind suicides of both sexes, accounting for 12,774 cases, or the majority of suicides last year, followed by family problems at 4,775 and problems related to economic and life issues at 4,697. Employment issues accounted for 2,968.
The data was compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare based on suicide statistics released by the National Police Agency.
Emergency service in Japan: 119
If you are having suicidal thoughts, help is available.
For Japan, call Yorisoi Hotline at 0120279338 (toll-free). Press 2 after the recorded message for consultation in English, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Nepali, or Indonesian. The service in these languages is also available on Facebook messenger.
For those outside Japan, you can find a list of other resources here.