Suicides in Japan Exceed 30,000 for 12 Straight Years; Churches Urge for Outreach

( [email protected] ) Jan 29, 2010 06:19 AM EST

Since 2008 total number of suicides in Japan has increased by 504, reaching a total of 32,753 in 2009; it has been the 12th consecutive years since the number of suicides have stayed above 30,000, the National Police Agency reported Tuesday.

According to Voices of America, the NPA statistics revealed that the majority of those who committed suicides last year were male, totaling 23,406, and female, 9,347. Comparing the stats from the different months, the peak season of suicides occur between March and May, averaging 3,000 per month.

Analysts believe that financial factor is one of the important causes of suicides, since these months are when the fiscal year ends. Moreover, the 2008 edition of White Papers to Suicides in Japan revealed that the main motivations for suicides were finances, health and family.

In 2007, among every 100,000 people the average suicide death rate peaked 25.3 per cent, surpassing World Health Organization’s estimation of the corresponding world average suicide rate of 16 per cent. The suicide rate in Japan is ranked as the first among all the industrialized nations. It has become the number one killer of Japanese’s abnormal deaths.

In addition, suicide has steadily turned into a type of cultural trend in Japan. Some likes to find romantic and quiet place to commit suicide; Mount Fuji, Japan’s tourist hotspot, has become a “suicide hotspot.” Some even formed “suicide networks” on the internet, where young people who have no relationships with each other will give each other courage to commit suicide.

With the suicide problem escalates, each society’s sectors in Japan has shown concerns. Japan Life Telephone Association Director Okamoto believes that the most effective preventive strategy is to “ignite the fire of hope in the people.”

Church leaders from Japan also reflected on the suicide problem and believe that the church must see the emptiness in the people and respond to society’s needs. A churchgoer in Japan pointed out that in the midst of technological advances and increasing material wealth people’s values have been disregarded more than ever before. These frightening figures encompass the fatal disease of the entire society.

Various churches have already began developing ministry groups to help people find faith and hope.

While Taiwan and Hong Kong have had much Japanese cultural influence, the churches and ministries in both regions are seeing the serious spiritual emptiness that is reflected from Japan’s suicide phenomenon. In recent years, Taiwan’s Chinese Campus Crusade for Christ, Hong Kong’s Evangelical Free Church of China, Cell Group Mission Network and others are all actively sending missionaries to Japan, opening gospel ministries for the local people.