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Leg Med (Tokyo). 2007 May;9(3):139-42. Epub 2007 Jan 2.

The correlation between unemployment and suicide rates in Japan between 1978 and 2004.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Mie University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-174, Edobashi, Tsu 514-8507, Japan. ke-inoue@clin.medic.mie-u.ac.jp


The number of suicides in Japan has increased from approximately 22,000 per year from 1988 to 1997 to over 30,000 per year since then; this increase is among the most important problems facing Japan. Moreover, the unemployment rate in Japan has increased rapidly since 1998. In this study, we examined the total number of suicides and both the suicide and unemployment rates in Japan from 1978 to 2004. We also focused on the correlation between annual suicide rates in Japan and the annual unemployment rates during the study period. During that period, 455,357 males and 225,012 females committed suicide in Japan, and the suicide rates by sex were 27.8 males and 13.3 females per 100,000 population (P<0.05). The annual suicide rates among males correlated significantly with the annual unemployment rates: r(27)=0.94, P<0.001, while the female suicide rates did not correlate with the unemployment rates: r(27)=0.39, P=0.05. Thus, when unemployed men are observed to be depressed, it is important for those close to them, as well as their health care professionals, to pay careful attention to their behavior to detect suicidal tendencies or intentions.

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