. GLOCOM Platform
. . debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
.
.
.
.
.
. Newsletters
(Japanese)
. Summary Page
(Japanese)
.
.
.
.
.
.
Search with Google
.
.
.
Home > Special Topics > Social Trends Last Updated: 15:18 03/09/2007
Social Trends #79: August 18, 2004

Suicide in Japan: Part Eleven - Comparing International Rates of Suicide

J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM)

A full list of articles in this series can be found here.


This is the third in a series of articles examining the latest suicide statistics.

According to the most recently released National Police Agency (NPA) suicide figures for 2003, a record 34,427 Japanese men and women took their own lives last year. Expressed in the international unit for suicide, 27 out of every 100,000 people took their own lives in 2003, giving Japan one of the highest rates amongst industrially advanced countries.

In the table below, which is based on the 2003 World Health Organization's international suicide rate comparison, the data for Japan is from 1999 when rates were not so high. Based on provisional data for 2003, Japanese male and female suicide rates per 100,000 people are now roughly about 40.2 for men and 14.9 for women. Although these figures are only approximations, they are frighteningly high and a cause for concern. Japanese male suicide rates are now approaching levels normally only witnessed in countries suffering severe economic hardships such as Russia, Latvia or Lithuania (see table below).

Japan's current ratio of suicide to population size is about double that found in the United States or most European Union countries. For example, the total number of Japanese suicides is roughly equal to that of the entire United States, a country which has more than twice Japan's population (see table below).

It should be noted that comparing international rates of suicide is an inherently problematic process, because different countries have varying degrees of evidentiary standards when ascertaining whether a death can be classified as a suicide. This problem is discussed in a later article in this series.

International Suicide Rates (per 100,000 people) by selected country, year, and gender

CountryYearMalesFemales
Australia9921.25.1
Austria0127.39.8
Belgium9629.410.7
Canada9819.55.1
China
(Selected rural & urban areas)
9913.014.8
China
(Hong Kong SAR)
9916.79.8
Denmark9820.98.1
Estonia0045.811.9
Finland0034.610.9
France9926.19.4
Germany9920.27.3
Hungary0147.113.0
Iran910.30.1
Ireland9918.44.3
Italy9911.13.4
Japan *9936.514.1
Latvia0056.611.9
Lithuania0075.616.1
Netherlands9913.06.3
New Zealand9823.76.9
Norway9919.56.8
Poland0025.94.9
Republic of Korea0018.88.3
Russian Federation0070.611.9
Singapore0012.56.4
Spain9912.44.0
Sweden9919.78.0
Switzerland9926.510.0
Thailand945.62.4
United Kingdom9911.83.3
United States9917.64.1

Source: World Health Organization, May 2003

* Note: Based on provisional data for 2003, Japanese male and female suicide rates are roughly about 40.2 and 14.9 respectively.

A full list of articles in this series can be found here.

Related links

National Police Agency Suicide Report for 2003 (PDF Japanese)

Suicide also rises in the land of the rising sun
J. Sean Curtin, Asia Times, 28 July 2004

Male and Female Suicide Rates for Selected OECD Countries

Male and Female Suicide Rates International Comparison (May 1998)

Note: The chart gives the 1995 rate for Japan, when suicide was much lower

(Some parts of this article first appeared in Asia Times Online on 28 July 2004, http://www.atimes.com, and all those sections are republished with permission. Copyright of these particular section belongs to Asia Times Online Ltd.)

 Top
TOP BACK HOME
Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications