Japan’s suicide rate is expected to rise after triple disasters in March

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 13 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5839
  1. Gavin Blair
  1. 1Miyagi prefecture, northeast Japan

Aid agencies are warning that the already high suicide rate in Japan is likely to spike in the next few months as people affected by the triple disasters of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor incident see little improvement in their lives.

The number of suicides in Japan has stayed at more than 30 000 a year (24 for every 100 000 people) for more than a decade, despite a series of measures to try to reduce it, involving local governments, non-profit organisations, and medical professionals.

Numbers of suicides rose after the Kobe earthquake in 1995, which killed nearly 6500 people. However, the scale of the destruction after the 11 March tsunami, which affected 800 km of Japan’s northeast coast and resulted in an ongoing nuclear crisis, has affected many more people this time (BMJ 2011;342:d1859, doi:10.1136/bmj.d1859).

In addition to the almost 20 000 people killed by the tsunami …

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