Increasing suicide among schoolchildren in Japan

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Increasing suicide among schoolchildren in Japan

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The number of schoolchildren committing suicide in Japan increased once more to 479 deaths in 2020. Thus a familiar depressing statistic was announced concerning childhood deaths in 2020. Yet, despite recent years witnessing new increases, it appears that little is being done to stem the increasing crisis.

Issues related to bullying and the inaction of teachers are nothing new despite schools being more aware of the problem. Equally, in cities like Tokyo, the level of competition for entering elite schools and a heavy workload is nothing new.

Greater focus is needed on social media. This concerns different types of bullying, shaming based on images, the sharing of private information, the encouragement of adults in seeking people to commit suicide, and growing interaction with strangers on social media. At the same time, other angles related to modernity and new pressures being put on schoolchildren must be scrutinized.

Schools must also play a greater role in expressing the need for children to come forward if they have serious issues to discuss. Similarly, parents need to involve themselves more if they witness any signs related to depression, loneliness, and other negative factors. Likewise, if teachers are abusing their power – or parents are abusing their children – a more pro-active approach is needed.

Last year, 479 schoolchildren from elementary, junior high, and high schools committed suicide in Japan. This is a sharp increase from the year before of 339. However, this isn’t a recent tragic occurrence because in 2014 suicide among schoolchildren became the main killer for children aged between 10 and 19.

It is essential that “greater reach out” is enacted and tackling new issues related to modernity – irrespective of social media and other angles related to modern lifestyles. While also focusing on traditional bullying, suicide-related to heavy schoolwork, depression based on negative exam results, abuse in the home, and other factors.

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