Tokyo, Feb. 15 (Jiji Press)–The number of elementary, junior high and high school students who killed themselves in Japan totaled 479 in 2020, up sharply from 339 the previous year, amid the new coronavirus epidemic, the education ministry said Monday.
The figure for 2020 was the highest in five years.
Notably, the number of suicide cases among female high school students nearly doubled from the previous year to 138.
The ministry will carry out a detailed analysis to see whether the virus epidemic has had an impact on the rise in suicide cases among students.
The figure, which is based on the health ministry’s statistics on suicides, was reported at a meeting of an expert panel for preventing suicides among students.
Of the total, suicides of elementary school students came to 14, up from six in 2019, while those of junior high school students stood at 136, up from 96, and of high school students at 329, up from 237.
Suicide cases were highest in August, at 64, with the number of female high school students committing suicide in the month up nearly sevenfold from a year before to 23.
Last year, many schools reopened in August after summer holidays, due to the impact of school closures caused by the virus crisis. Usually, many schools reopen in September.
Worries over choices for the future, weak academic performance and bad relationships with parents were cited as key reasons behind suicides of elementary through high school students, as usual, but an increase was seen in the number of suicide cases related to mental disorders and depression.
The expert panel is expected to discuss possible reasons behind the rise in suicide cases among students and measures to prevent such cases.
On Monday, some participants called for utilizing tablet devices, set to be distributed to each student of elementary and junior high schools by the end of March, to check student stress levels and for private interviews, to prevent students from committing suicide.