The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Grim Stats

For the 14th straight year the Japanese suicide rate was over 30,000. The economic woes of the country always see job seekers and the under-employed or retired taking their own lives. But last year the effects of the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Fukushima added to the number of people who felt they no longer had anything to live for.

Thirty thousand people a year is a large number of people to lose. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for men aged 20-44. These are the people Japan desperately needs to keep if the population and industries are to survive the future aging demographic. Why isn’t more being done to stop these young men and women feeling that their only option is suicide?  Some serious re-imagining of work conditions, education policies and such social norms as the honourable ideas surrounding taking your own life and the stoicism of suffering alone is in order to combat this. What we get instead though, is pretty blue lights at the railway stations (above) that have no proven effect on potential platform jumpers.

The best anti-suicide measure I have heard of is almost laughably simple. At known suicide spots signs are put up asking those thinking about committing suicide if they have cleared their hard disks before they die. Apparently this simple question regarding any embarrassing legacy that might be left behind is proving effective at giving people pause;  turning them around to put their computer in order and thus allowing them time to reconsider. Many it appears do change their minds.

More pictures of the blue LED suicide prevention lights on Tokyo stations at my photoshelter archive here.


One response

  1. It works out to something like 1 every 15 minutes.
    Tragic and unnecessary.
    A catastrophic failure of a society’s ability to deal with what ails it.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

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