The country of Japan could be enduring a major mental health crisis following the turbulent coronavirus pandemic. While the pandemic is not yet over, Japan’s National Police Agency reported the country lost 17,000 people to suicide this year, well surpassing the number of coronavirus deaths during the same period.
And, as the Washington Examiner points out, the country has seen more suicides in the month of October than they had total coronavirus deaths during the entire pandemic.
While the country did not have major lockdowns or heavy restrictions in place and their coronavirus death toll was significantly lower than other major countries, it was impacted.
Residents contracted the infection.
Workers lost their jobs.
Businesses were forced to close.
And, people are fearful it may never end.
The Washington Examiner reports suicides in Japan rose to 2,153 in the month of October, while the number of coronavirus deaths just barely crossed the 2,000-milestone (2,087).
“We need to seriously confront reality,” Chief Government Spokesman Katsunobu Kato said, suggesting a drastic change must come soon.
According to the report, suicides have been an issue for Japan, but the rate of its occurrence has risen under the coronavirus-related lockdowns.
From the Washington Examiner:
The number of suicides in the country peaked in 2003 but has steadily fallen every year since 2009 to record lows in 2019.
That trend has seen a reverse in 2020, with 600 more people committing suicide in October than did during the same month in 2019. Suicide rates among women have been one of the biggest factors in the spike, rising 80% in 2020.
Psychiatrist Chiyoko Ueda blamed the spike in suicides on the country’s pandemic response, saying people are struggling with money and disruptions to normal life.
“My self-esteem is low because I’m worried about money; The stay-home situation has disrupted my life; My kids and I don’t get along,” Ueda said in an interview.
U.S. researchers have worried that a similar problem could play out at home, estimating that the pandemic response could cause 75,000 “deaths of despair” due to financial stress and social isolation.