Japan’s Suicide Crisis 日本の自殺危機

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Japan’s suicide statistics make grim reading.


National Police Agency (NPA) data published in June 2008 shows that 33,093 people took their own lives in 2007, marking the tenth consecutive year the figure has exceeded 30,000.
警察庁が20086月に発表した資料によると、2007年の自殺者は33,093人で、10年連続で毎年3万人を超 えている。

It was also the second-highest number since the NPA began collecting data some 30 years ago, and not far short of the record 34,427 in 2003.

Put in context, the 2007 numbers equate to approximately 90 suicides a day or one every 16 minutes.

The number of people per hundred thousand who committed suicide was 25.9, a staggeringly high rate by international standards.
10万人につき25.9人の割合 だ。これは世界の平均より驚くほど高い。

The most recent data published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, shows Japan has a suicide rate double that of the US and almost three times that of the UK.
パリに本部がある経済協力開発機構(OECD)による最新の統計では、日本の自殺者の割合はアメリカの2倍、イギ リスの3倍である。

Among the Group of Eight nations only Russia has a higher rate.

A closer look at the data shows that 71 % of victims were male.

By age, the over 60s were the biggest group with 12,107, a record high for that age group.

The second-highest age group was those in their 50s, who accounted for 7,046 deaths.

Of the 23,209 suicides in 2007 where reasons could be determined, government data says 63.3% were due to health problems (physical and mental).

This was followed by 31.5% related to economic and livelihood issues, 16.2% for family problems, 9.5% for work-related issues, and love affairs at 4.1%.
31.5%は経済 と生活問題、16.2%は家庭問題、9.5%は仕事に関する問題、4.1%は男女問題によると続いている。

But why do these problems push people as far as suicide?
しかし、なぜこれらの問題が人々を自殺にまで追 いやるのだろうか?

An article in the Economist in May 2008 suggested cultural factors may be partially behind the problem.

“Japanese society rarely lets people bounce back from the perceived shame of failure or bankruptcy.

Suicide is sometimes even met with approval — as facing one’s fate, not shirking it.

The samurai tradition views suicide as noble,” the article says.

Another factor put forward by the Economist is that Buddhism and Shintoism, the dominant religions in Japan, do not take a negative stance on suicide.

This is unlike Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which prohibit it.
これは自殺を禁ずるキリスト教、イスラム教、 ユダヤ教と異なる点だ。

Added to this is the stigma attached to those suffering with mental illness in Japan, which often prevents people from reaching out for help.

According to Tokyo-based research company Fuji Keizai Co., only one in four people in Japan with depressive illness seek medical help for their condition.
東京にあるリサーチ会社、富士経済社に よると、日本ではうつ病の4人のうち1人しか治療を求めていない。

The Future of Suicide               

In 2007, Japan’s government unveiled a 23 billion yen ($220m) package of measures to combat suicide,  with the aim of reducing the rate by at least 20 % over 10 years.

The measures include efforts to improve psychiatric care at clinics and hospitals, as well as improving counseling services in communities and providing support for those with multiple debts and people who nurse family members.
の対策には、診療所や病院での精神障害治療法の改善と努力、また、地域社会でのカウンセリングの改善、多重債務者や家族を看病している人たちへの支援が盛 り込まれている。

The government measures will also see stricter monitoring of “suicide websites,” a relatively new phenomenon that provide a place for those with suicidal intentions to discuss such things as suicide methods.
この政府の法案は「自殺サイト」をさらに厳しく監視することになるだろう。この自殺サイトは比較的新しい現象で、自殺したい人たちにその方法などの議論の 場を提供している。

Such sites have attracted substantial media attention in Japan after cases where people who met online arranged and carried out group suicides.

However, in an interview with the UK newspaper The Guardian, Yuzo Kato, director of the Tokyo Suicide Prevention Centre, called the government’s targets meaningless, and said more needed to be done to end the cultural stigma attached to mental illness.
しかしながら、イギリスの新聞ガーディアンでのインタビューで、東京自殺防止センターの加藤勇三ディレクターは、政府の目標には意味がないとみなし、精神 障害に対する文化的偏見を取り払うために、さらに行動を起こす必要があると述べた。

Kato is among many commentators who say that simply throwing money at the problem isn’t enough:
加藤氏ら多くのコメンテーターは、問題解決にお金をただ投入するだけで は十分ではなく、

Social changes are needed.

For Japan in the near future, the challenge of reducing suicide numbers could be exacerbated
by the global financial crisis.

Shu-Sen Chang, a psychiatrist with the UK’s University of Bristol, says job losses caused by the global credit crunch may drive more people to commit suicide in Japan, as well as in South Korea and Hong Kong.

In 1998, suicide rates jumped to 32,863 from 24,391 a year earlier in Japan, an increase that correlates with economic troubles and a rise in unemployment triggered by currency devaluations in Asia in the middle of 1997.

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