Suicide rate in Japan 2009-2018, by gender

Men in Japan are more likely to commit suicide than women, with 23.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the number of fatalities among men reached over 14 thousand in 2018. Despite self-inflicted death numbers being significantly lower among women in Japan, the female suicide rate increased slightly by 0.1 percent compared to the previous year, equaling to 6,550 suicide cases in 2018.

Why is suicide more prevalent among men in Japan?

Historically, Japan’s high suicide rates are closely linked to the economic situation of the individuals. The majority of suicides in Japan stemmed from health reasons, however, existential worries and problems directly related to work accounted for over 5,000 self-inflicted deaths in 2018.
While the female employment rate revolved around the 50 percent mark, almost 70 percent of Japanese men were employed in 2017. Gender-based roles are still relevant in modern-day Japan, with women predominantly taking care of family and housekeeping, and men financially providing for their families.
Despite changes on the perception of gender roles in recent years, economic pressure seems to be more prevalent among men in Japan. Failure in fulfilling social expectations might lead to a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

How does economic pressure affect suicide rates?

The most profound issue faced by employees in Japan leading to self-harm was exhaustion. An increasing pressure of retaining jobs by putting in more hours of overtime, while taking fewer holidays and sick days are seen as the main motivators behind the rising suicide numbers among office workers and employees. Occupational sudden mortality, known as karoshi ("death by overwork") is a well-known phenomenon in Japanese society. Besides physical pressure, mental stress from the workplace can cause karoshi. Suicide due to occupational stress or overwork is called karojisatsu ("overwork suicide") in Japan.
Japan’s suicide numbers peaked in 2009, when the country experienced its worst recession since World War II. That same year, the suicide rate surged to 25.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants and almost 33 thousand victims in total.

Number of suicides per 100,000 inhabitants in Japan from 2009 to 2018, by gender

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Release date

March 2019



Survey time period

2009 to 2018

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