Social isolation, anxiety and depression are putting us to the test and suicides are on the rise in Japan.
Mass unemployment, social isolation, anxiety and depression are putting us to the test. Everyone, without distinction and in every corner of the globe. And it is not a fact thrown in by chance, but a real danger: experts have repeatedly warned that the pandemic could lead to a mental health crisis. And those who are weaker need help now.
The alarming numbers arriving from Japan say it: here, according to some statistics, Suicide claimed more deaths in October than Covid-19 did during 2020 to date. According to the Japanese National Police Agency, the monthly number of suicides in the Land of the Rising Sun rose to 2.153 in October. What does it mean? That the irreparable could happen.
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This is the picture that emerges from the CNN reportage made in Tokyo, a page of harsh reality that starts from the story of Eriko Kobayashi, who tried to take his own life four times. The first was only 22, a full-time job in publishing, but a salary that didn't even cover rent and bills.
Now, 43, Kobayashi has written books about his mental health problems and has a steady job at an NGO. But the coronavirus is bringing back all the stress and anxiety he was feeling.
"My salary has been cut and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel," he says. I constantly feel a sense of crisis that I could fall back into poverty ”.
Japan is one of the few major economies to release suicide data in a timely manner - the most recent national data for the United States, for example, is from 2018. Japanese data could provide other countries with information on the impact of pandemic measures on health mental and which groups are the most vulnerable.
The toll of Covid-19 on women
Japan has long struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In 2016, Japan had a suicide death rate of 18,5 per 100 people, second only to South Korea in the Western Pacific region and nearly double the global annual average of 10,6 per 100 people.
The reasons for Japan's high suicide rate are complex, including long working hours, school pressure, social isolation, and a cultural stigma surrounding mental health problems. But for the 10 years leading up to 2019, the number of suicides had fallen in Japan, dropping to around 20 last year alone, the lowest number since the country's health authorities began keeping records in 1978.
Then came the pandemic, which appears to have reversed this trend, with an increase in suicides disproportionately affecting the population. women. In October alone, suicides among women in Japan increased by nearly 83% compared to the same month in 2019. For comparison, male suicides increased by nearly 22% over the same time period.
The reasons? Those linked to work, of course: women make up a greater percentage of part-time workers in the hotel, restaurant and retail trade sectors, precisely those in which the layoffs have been clear and profound.
Kobayashi said many of his friends were fired. "Japan has ignored women," he said. This is a society where the weakest people are cut off first when something bad happens. "
Adding to these concerns about lost wages, according to the study, women also had to face real unpaid health care burdens. For those who keep their jobs, when children are sent home from school or daycare, it is often up to mothers to take on those responsibilities in addition to their normal job duties.
Rising anxiety about children's health and well-being has also placed an additional burden on mothers during the pandemic. Does it remind you of anything?
Japan is one of the few major economies to release suicide data in a timely manner - the most recent national data for the United States, for example, is from 2018. Japanese data could provide other countries with information on the impact of pandemic measures on health mental and which groups are the most vulnerable. Which means that in a real world you could move sooner and prevent the problem.
In an ideal world.
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