Health and Fitness

Suicide Is Getting So Serious in Japan That They've Appointed a 'Minister of Loneliness'

Mental health is a serious issue.

The pandemic has pushed entire nations to the edge, and there is no better example than Japan, where suicide rates have spiked since the pandemic began ravaging the nation.

In October alone, 880 women took their lives, which is a 70-percent surge from the year prior. The increase in suicide rates comes at a time when Japanese citizens are battling with depression, unemployment, and fear of the coronavirus.

The situation has become so severe that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has created a new role: Minister of Loneliness. The new post has been assigned to Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is already in charge of addressing Japan’s other prevalent social issues: declining birthrate and struggling regional economies.

The preliminary figures from Japan’s National Police Agency claim that 20,919 people committed suicide in 2020, marking the first increase in yearly suicides in Japan in over 10 years. The majority of these victims were men, but suicide among women and youths is on the rise.

While remote work has ensured citizens are safe from the pandemic, it has put citizens, many of whom live alone, at risk of severe loneliness due to the lack of socialization.

Japan is already facing other loneliness issues among its citizens, namely, hikikomori, social recluses who avoid all contact, and kodokushi, lonely deaths of persons whose bodies remain undiscovered for a long time.

The pandemic has only heightened awareness of these prevailing social issues that Japanese citizens, and all citizens around the world, must deal with in the face of a long and lonely quarantine.


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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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