If your life is in danger, call the police at 110

World Suicide Prevention Day 2023

World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2023)

In Japan, September can be a challenging time for many young people as they return to school or university. In studies done by the Japanese Cabinet Office, it was reported that suicides among school-age children tend to occur as schools reopen after spring break and particularly as they reopen after summer vacation. Often, these students are forced again to manage difficulties in relationships, bullying, and anxiety about their future. These challenges and stresses can be overwhelmingly painful and some young people may consider suicide as a means of escaping. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Nippon Foundation, almost half of all young people in Japan have had suicidal thoughts. Of the over 14,000 people aged 18 – 29 that were surveyed, 45% reported that they had thoughts of suicide. Of those, 40%  reported that they had attempted suicide or taken steps toward preparing to kill themselves. 

The Nippon Foundation survey also found that one in seven people surveyed had experienced sexual violence. Of this group, 76% had thoughts of suicide. Additionally, the survey found that 56% of respondents who identified as LGBTQ+ had experienced thoughts of suicide, with transgender and nonbinary people being more likely to have experienced sexual assault and as a result greater suicidal ideation than their cisgender peers.

In 2022,  2483 young adults (aged 20 – 29) died as a result of suicide. For the first time in over 30 years, over 500 students (aged 18 or younger) died by suicide. Among the youth and young adults in Japan, suicide continues to be the leading cause of death.

Even more concerning is that these young people did not and could not speak to anyone about what they were experiencing. The Nippon Foundation survey found that 56% of those who considered suicide felt that they did not think it was something they could discuss and were unaware of organizations that could help. We need to let those individuals who are thinking of ending their own know: “You are not alone.”

If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, there are actions you can do. In fact, all you have to do is ASK:

Ask someone how they are doing. You do not have to provide solutions or answers. Just giving space for someone to share what they are feeling, lets them know that you care. These conversations can go a long way to build connection, and let those who are struggling know that they are not alone.

Share your experiences. If you have experienced struggles with your mental health, or if you have lived through an experience of suicide, your insights and stories can be powerful and foster a better understanding of the struggles that can affect anyone. It can encourage people to connect with those about whom they care and encourage individuals to reach out for help themselves.

Build your Knowledge. Understand that suicide is not the problem but is often a response to a problem that an individual feels is unsolvable. Learn more about suicide and mental health. The more informed you are, the better you will be able to recognize warning signs and respond to these authentically and sensitively. Suicide exists and one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Knowing more about how to help won’t increase the number of suicides, but it will help us talk about issues that many are afraid to talk about.

The small actions you take can communicate to those who are struggling with thoughts of ending their life that they are not alone, that someone does care, that it is okay to talk about their struggle, and that help is available. These are the ingredients for hope. 

At TELL, we recognize the importance of being able to share your experiences with someone who is willing to listen and our Lifeline support workers are highly trained, and ready to be there for anyone when they want to talk. We continually revisit our practice and will be offering Gatekeeper training as part of our volunteer Lifeline support worker training to further enhance the services we provide to the people who reach out to the Lifeline. If you or anyone you know needs someone to talk to, we encourage you to contact us by phone (03-5774-0992) or chat (https://telljp.com/lifeline/). September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day and marks the start of TELL’s month-long campaign, Move for Mental Health, which is our response to the World Health Organisation’s call for action, Creating Hope Through Action. Join TELL as we honor the 21,881 individuals who lost their lives in Japan to suicide in 2022 and raise awareness about mental health in our communities.

As part of TELL’s Step Up Challenge, TELL has several walks organized around the country to honor those 21,881 lives, and to raise awareness of mental health issues. You can participate in any of these walks or you can organize your own walk or activity anytime between September 10 and October 10, 2023. You can also join us on October 14 at our Tokyo Tower Climb to help overcome the stigma surrounding mental health and demonstrate how step by step, together, we do make a difference.