The Japanese government said Wednesday it aims to drastically reduce the country’s suicide rate by shoring up support for people who have previously attempted to take their own lives or are suffering from postpartum depression.
In its latest draft of the suicide prevention guideline, released online, the government targets a 30 percent reduction in the annual number of suicides to below 16,000 in the next decade.
Although the number of suicides in Japan declined for the seventh consecutive year to 21,897 in 2016, the government acknowledged that “an alarming situation is continuing,” as the suicide rate remains high compared to other developed countries.
Japan, with the sixth-highest suicide rate in the world, also plans to bolster measures related to bullying in schools and overwork, according to the draft of the guideline, which is reviewed every five years.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to finalize the guideline this summer after soliciting public opinions.
The government is aiming to slash the number of suicides per 100,000 people by over 30 percent to 13 in 2026 from 18.5 in 2015 by promoting collaboration among the state, private organizations and businesses.
Specifically, the government plans to help create medical institutions that would work as a hub for supporting people who have attempted suicide and bolster health and mental checkups for mothers soon after their childbirth.
Even though about 10 percent of mothers are feared to develop postpartum depression, Japan has not implemented sufficient measures to tackle the situation with no nationwide survey ever conducted to look into suicides shortly after childbirth.
The draft guideline also said the state will promote the deployment of special staffers tasked with preventing suicides at municipal governments.
It also called for rectifying excessive working hours and addressing mental health issues at companies as the issue has attracted renewed public attention since the 2015 suicide of a 24-year-old advertising giant Dentsu Inc. female employee was recognized as a case of “karoshi,” or death from overwork.
To address suicides by youth, the government plans to assist efforts to inform students about how to seek help from others in schools.
Japan suicide rate of 19.5 per 100,000 people was behind such countries as Lithuania at 30.8, South Korea at 28.5 and Surinam at 24.2, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which compiled data since 2013.