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Trending the Wrong Way: Japan’s Suicide Epidemic

Philip Baillargeon
This problem has existed for a long time, but it has been brought back to the public’s attention in the wrong way. Logan Paul, a Youtuber with over 15 million subscribers at the time of writing, has garnered some criticism after entering Japan’s iconic “suicide forest” (Aokigahara Jukai) and filming a dead body, presumably a man who hung himself. However, I will refrain from discussing this individual, and instead focus at the problem at hand; climbing suicide rates in Japan.
In Aokigahara Jukai, there were 54 self-inflicted deaths in the year 2010 alone, and firefighters have claimed to find as many as 100 bodies in the forest in a single year. As a country, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with 15.4 suicides per 100,000 people in 2015. This is higher than the United States’s 12.6 per 100,000 and China’s 8.5 per 100,000. A vast majority of these people are men, with suicide becoming the leading cause of death in men aged 20–44. Most of these cases have been linked to employment related issues and social pressures, something most people in the United States can empathize with. There is also a historic connection to suicide related to the samurai and kamikaze pilots as a way to avoid dishonor and show devotion to their country. As for the younger age bracket, suicide is the leading cause of death for women aged 15-34, and nearly 2,000 high school students have commited suicide as a result of bullying.
By now, you can already see how deeply rooted and complex this issue is. Men and women, young and old, all facing a cultural breakdown in the form of a national epidemic. However, times are changing, and people are coming out in waves to help those afflicted with depression or suicidal thoughts. Support the cause here, by donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org/).

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