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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Japan combats suicide rate
Commuters in Tokyo
Companies will be told to tackle workplace stress
The Japanese Government says it is developing an extensive programme designed to tackle the country's high suicide rate.

The project, which was launched by the Ministry of Health, will bring together experts from the fields of psychiatry and sociology, as well as architecture.

It also aims to develop drugs to prevent suicides.

According to official statistics, last year more than 33,000 people killed themselves in Japan.

Officials say record unemployment and the country's worst recession in 50 years are being linked to the high suicide rate - especially among middle-aged men. Of people who committed suicide last year seven out of 10 were men.


The ministry is setting up an 18-member study group to look into the problem. They will interview bereaved families, colleagues and police to compile data and encourage employers to hire more health workers and counsellors to support their workers.

Homeless man and a salaryman on a park bench in Tokyo
Japan's economic outlook remains bleak
"As a government, we want to come up with measures to prevent suicides and need support from experts in this field," said a ministry official.

The project will take three years to complete.

Japan's suicide rate is higher than those in the UK, Germany, Italy or the United States, although lower than those for men in Austria, Finland and France.

The world's highest suicide rate is in Lithuania, where almost 74 men out of every 100,000 killed themselves, according to World Health Organisation figures for 1998.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Business
Sun sets on jobs for life
28 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sogo boss commits suicide
02 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Japan on suicide alert
20 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
Death of the Japanese dream
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