Bullying Leading Cause Of Suicide Among Japanese Schoolchildren

Too many children taking their lives
Japanese cemetery (Photo: Reuters)

Suicide remains the leading cause of death among Japanese children and teenagers with more young Japanese taking their own lives from 2016 to 2017 than any other year since 1986.

Japan's tragic suicide crisis continues unabated with bullying in school pinpointed as the main cause of this horrific tragedy. A new report from the Ministry of Education reveals that 250 elementary and high school age children took their own lives in that year.

This number compares to the 245 suicides registered from 2015 to 2016. The most youth suicides on record took place in 1986 when 268 school children snuffed out their lives.

More than 18,000 Japanese under 18 years-old committed suicide from 1972 to 2013.

The ministry said most of those who killed themselves were high school students.  A female student who was bullied a few years ago told media the long break from school enables children to stay at home, so it's heaven for those who are bullied.

But when summer ends, bullied children have to go back. And once they start worrying about getting bullied, committing suicide might be possible.

It is also dismaying that while total suicides in Japan were lower from 2016 to 2017 compared to the previous period, the youth suicide rate jumped. A total number of suicides in Japan fell to 21,321 in 2017, from a high of 34,427 in 2003, said the National Police Agency.

The government is desperately trying to stem the suicide crisis. Japan has its own demographic crisis where fewer and fewer Japanese babies are being born every year. To lose these precious babies to suicide later in their lives is a double curse for this island nation.

Part of the government's plan to slash the suicide rate by 30 percent includes hiring counselors for every elementary and junior high school student and launching a 24-hour helpline.

The Ministry of Education said it would love to eliminate this tragedy altogether, but the reality is several hundred children are taking their lives each year. It's important to teach children how to get help as soon as possible because it becomes harder and harder to find help once they're already suffering.

It said the light at the end of the tunnel "gets darker and darker until they begin to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as death."

Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates. Suicide remains the leading cause of death among those aged 15-39.

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