Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. In the whole world, there is an emerging concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could harm psychological health and exacerbate suicide risk. Especially in Japan.
In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date. Japan has long struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In 2016, Japan had a suicide mortality rate of 18.5 per 100,000 people, second only to South Korea in the Western Pacific region and almost double the annual global average of 10.6 per 100,000 people.
The study found that the proportion of respondents reporting that on at least one day in the previous week they had wanted to end their life increased from 8.2% to 9.2% and then to 9.8%, over the three waves of the study.
These rates were highest in young adults (aged 18-29), rising from 12.5% to 14.4% throughout the three waves. The researchers note that direct comparisons cannot be made but that this past week rate is higher than an 11% past-year suicidal ideation rate reported by young adults in another pre-covid-19 study.
Reasons for Japan's high suicide rate are complex, long working hours, school pressure, social isolation, and a cultural stigma around mental health issues have all been cited as contributing factors.
According to sources that women, young adults, socially disadvantaged people, and people with pre-existing mental health problems reported the worst mental health outcomes in the Coronavirus pandemic. Sources suggest other countries might see a similar or even bigger increase in the number of suicides in the future.
Stay connected with each other
Talking to them. Making sure you are in touch with them and know what they are up to from time to time. Even if it's a text or a call, make sure you're talking to them. Ask them what is on their mind, let them know that you are here for them.
Engage them in activities that allow you and them to have fun in a way where you won't have to have physical contact. Maybe play some online video games together. Or exchange each other's favorite music playlist so that you get an insight into their taste. Discuss the movies that you've seen.
When a person is suicidal, the last thing you can do is to be there for them. Listen to them and make them feel safe and secure. Mental illness might be hard to deal with, but with the right guidance, anyone can go through it and fight against it.