Nonprofit organizations and other entities supporting children are stepping up efforts to prevent kids from committing suicide, as students who kill themselves tend to do so around the end of the summer school holidays in Japan.
According to data released by the Cabinet Office in 2015, dates when children aged up to and including 18 committed suicide between 1972 and 2013 were mostly concentrated on or around Sept. 1 when the new semester starts at schools in many parts of Japan.
The children’s suicide rate also tends to rise around the end of spring and the Golden Week holidays in April and May, respectively, the data shows, suggesting that returning to school after vacation is a huge hurdle for children, especially those worried about being bullied.
The government’s anti-suicide white paper for 2015 pointed out the need to take steps to prevent children’s suicide after long vacations, saying “large pressure or emotional dismay tend to hit children after vacations.”
A Tokyo-based NPO offering telephone counseling services said it plans to extend the operating hours of its “Childline” in eight prefectures from late August to early September and to launch an online chat counseling service for nine days from Aug. 29.
“A one-on-one counseling service will be available free of charge on smartphones or computers. There will be no need to identify the caller or their school. We will keep it a secret,” said an official of the organization.
Another incorporated NPO plans to open its facilities around the end of the summer holiday in six prefectures in a bid to provide a free space for children refusing to attend school.
“Last year, we received many inquiries from parents,” said the organization’s secretary general Hiroyuki Matsushima. “We want as many as children possible to know that they have an option outside schools and that there is a way to live through this.”
The Foundation for Promoting Sound Growth of Children has recently asked around 4,600 children’s centers across the nation for cooperation to accept children at their facilities.
An incorporated NPO issuing twice-monthly newspapers carrying news on children’s schools, social recluses and other issues plans to send out a message to children soon to offer them support, together with other entities promoting the sound growth of young people.
“At this time of a year when the risk (of children committing suicide) is the highest, we want adults to take extra care and not to miss SOS signals from them,” said Hironobu Koguma, secretary general of the newspaper-issuing organization.