A spike in suicides in Japan is being linked to COVID-19, particularly the impact of the disease on the lives of women.
New data show there were 2,153 suicides in Japan in October, a National Police Agency report said, according to Nippon.com.
The suicide increase represented a 39.9 percent increase over October 2019.
The biggest increase came in suicides among women. Although 1,302 Japanese men killed themselves in October, more than the 851 women who did so, the number of female suicides increased by 82.6 percent month over month.
“We didn’t even have a lockdown, and the impact of Covid is very minimal compared to other countries … but still we see this big increase in the number of suicides,” Michiko Ueda, an associate professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, told CNN. “That suggests other countries might see a similar or even bigger increase in the number of suicides in the future.”
She said that as the virus surges anew, the rate of suicides could get worse.
“We haven’t even experienced the full economic consequences of the pandemic,” Ueda said. “The pandemic itself can get worse, then maybe there’s a semi-lockdown again; if that happens, then the impact can be huge.”
Koki Ozora, 21, a university student who started a mental health hotline in March, told CNN the majority of people in distress are women.
Because the service sector has been hit hardest by pandemic-inspired restrictions and the sector employs many women, economic hardship has fallen even harder on women.
“They lost their jobs, and they need to raise their kids, but they didn’t have any money,” Ozora said. “So they attempted suicide.”
“I’ve been accepting messages, like ‘I’m being raped by my father’ or ‘My husband tried to kill me,'” he said. “Women send these kinds of texts almost every day. And it’s increasing.”
Ozora said COVID-19 has limited the options women have to deal with their troubles, sending some on a road that ends in suicide.
In 2016, Japan had a suicide rate of 18.5 per 100,000 people, far above the global rate of 10.6 per 100,000 people.
A study about the impacts of COVID-19 by CARE International found that 27 percent of the women in the study said the pandemic has increased mental health concerns, nearly triple the 10 percent rate of men.
“Women especially point to skyrocketing unpaid care burdens as a source of this stress, in addition to worries about livelihoods, food, and health care. Women are also nearly twice as likely to report challenges to accessing quality health services,” CARE reported.
The United States is not immune.
Depression screenings are up nearly 900% since last year. Suicides are up 70% in Wichita. If someone you know is struggling, make sure they know the text line 741741 or the national suicide hotline at 800.273.8255. pic.twitter.com/Hy2fDKOwwP
— MHASCK (@MHAofSCK) November 17, 2020
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey about the impact of COVID-19 on Americans found that 25.5 percent of young adults reported having considered suicide because of the pandemic.
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