By Yoko Kubota Thu Jun 19, 9:57 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - Over 33,000 people took their lives in Japan last year, topping 30,000 for the tenth consecutive year despite a government campaign to reduce what is one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
A report issued by the National Police Agency on Thursday showed that 33,093 people killed themselves in Japan in 2007 -- the second-largest number on record after 34,427 in 2003 -- mostly because of debt, family problems, depression and other health issues.
There was also a leap in the number of suicides involving toxic hydrogen sulphide gas made from household detergents, a previously obscure method that is spreading rapidly as Internet messages tell victims how to produce the poison at home.
"This extremely regrettable situation has been going on for a long time," chief government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura said of the data.
"It's a very hard problem, but we want to do as much as we can."
The number of suicides shot up in Japan after the 1980s economic bubble burst, leaving many out of work and in debt.
Suicides by those aged 60 and above rose by 9 percent to around 12,100 last year, while those by teenagers decreased slightly.
Japan suicides near record high in 2007 - Yahoo! News
Their economy and technology have made Japan a world player. Their World War II mentality, however, still exists along with the fierce pyschological demands of success and the utter shame of 'failure.' That's a nasty, deadly cocktail. Yet they are duty-bound to drink it. We (the West) will never understand it completely. Weird shit for 2008.
^ Yeah, maybe, whatever. I think its mainly that suicide is not seen as a sin here. In a way it is kind of honourable, 'taking responsibility' as it were.
Papa was a rodeo - Mama was a rock'n'roll band
I could play guitar and rope a steer before I learned to stand
^ I couldn't agree more. I feel that if a person lives his life, he has the right to take it. I respect that. If I'm told I have six months to live and I'm suffering, I'm getting some pills, checking into a luxury hotel - and light out!! Let the maids put me in the bin the next day.
Pity the maids!
Elderly suicides surge in Japan
The number of elderly people who killed themselves in Japan surged in 2007, government figures showed.
Suicides involving people over the age of 60 rose by almost 9% to 12,107, making up nearly 40% of all cases in Japan, the National Police Agency said.
Japan's elderly are increasingly concerned about money and rising health care costs.
Nationwide, the number of suicides rose by 2.9% to 33,093, the second-highest figure since records began in 1978.
Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates.
Last year ministers approved a raft of measures to try to reduce this, such as more workplace counselling and blocking websites that offer suicide tips.
But it appears that the measures have yet to yield results.
Recent months have seen a rash of cases where people killed themselves by mixing chemicals to produce toxic gas.
Police said that the main causes of suicide were depression, illness and debt.
But the elderly have been particularly hard-hit by issues linked to Japan's ageing society.
Health insurance costs have risen and people are increasingly concerned that the state will not be able to support them properly.
A recent scandal involving millions of lost pension records has exacerbated concern over social security issues.
And as the traditional family structure has changed, some elderly people are worried that there will be no family members to care for them in their old age.
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Elderly suicides surge in Japan