Suicide rate in Japan drops 20 percent despite Covid-19 lockdown

This is in contrast with the common presumption that lockdown and the economic downturn that comes with it, will increase stress levels the incidence of suicides.

The Guardian has reported that suicide rates in Japan fell by 20 percent in April compared with the same time last year, which is the biggest drop in five years. This is in stark contrast with fears that the coronavirus pandemic would cause increased stress and suicides with many prevention helplines either not operating or under-staffed. 

It is, in fact, one of the concerns that have been raised at the CHRO Community Conversations where HR leaders voiced concerns around the mental wellness of employees who have to stay home and contend with being home-school teachers, parents, partners, cleaners, and effective employees all at the same time. Coupled with the anxiety surrounding their job security, it seemed reasonable to be concerned about employees mental fragility. 

But, in Japan, there were 359 fewer suicides in April 2020 than during the same month last year when there were 1,814. According to the recent figures, suicide has been on a downward trend in Japan since peaking at more than 34,000 cases annually in 2003. Last year saw the figure drop by over 20,000 and the large drop last month came at a time when there were fears of a fresh spike. 

The drop in suicides during the lockdown, in Japan’s case, has been attributed to a large drop in the number of people commuting to offices, where they often work long hours. It is also stated in the aforementioned article that suicides may have dropped due to the postponement of the academic year and many young people not having to deal with their school bullies every day.