Although Japan is known for having an above-average suicide rate, according to TELL Lifeline director Vickie Skorji the main cause is the same around the world: “The number one reason behind all suicides whether in Japan or any other country is a mental health problem – typically a mood disorder such as depression.”
In Japan, mental illness is still seen as a weakness or failure on the individual’s behalf. This stigma creates the biggest barrier to people discussing their problems or accessing services leaving many exhausted and feeling that they are a burden to everyone, that there is no future or way out, making suicide a very real option. We would never say to a person with cancer or diabetes snap out of it or you are weak, but we expect the person with a mental illness to get better on their own every day.
“Last year, 21,897 lives were lost to suicide”(2017)