Many experts have warned that the COVID19 pandemic can lead to a mental health crisis on a global level. Anxiety, mass unemployment, and social isolation have taken a toll on people around the world. Now, government statistics in Japan show that suicide attempts have killed more people in the last month than the COVID19 over a year until now. As per Japan’s National Policy Agency, the monthly number of suicide attempts has increased to 2153 in October. The health ministry in Japan has reported that there have been only 2087 cases of COVID19 so far. Japan is one of the few developed countries that make its timely suicide data public. Experts have said that the data released by Japan can give other nations insights regarding the effects of the pandemic on mental health and it will help them identify groups, which are at high risk. An associate professor at Waseda University in Japan Michiko Ueda has said that the country has not imposed a lockdown; therefore, the impact of the pandemic is minimal as compared to other countries. However, the nation has seen a big leap in the number of suicide attempts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Japan has been struggling with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The nation has been dealing with a suicide death rate of 18.5 per 100000 people in 2016. It has made the country stand at the second position in the list of countries with a high suicide rate after South Korea across the Western Pacific region. Japan has surpassed the annual global average of 10.6 per 100000 people as well. Experts have said that long working hours, social isolation, school pressure, and cultural stigma around mental health have been contributing factors to Japan’s high suicide rate. However, the overall suicide rate has been going down in Japan in this decade leading up to 2019. In 2019, the country has seen the lowest number of suicide attempts since it has started keeping records in 1978. However, the COVID19 pandemic has overturned this trend this year. Experts have revealed that the increase in suicides has excessively affected women. Although they account for a smaller number of total suicide cases than men, nevertheless the number of women ending their lives has increased. As per the data, suicides among women have shot up by 83 percent in the month of October in Japan. In the same period, the rate of male suicides has increased by only 22 percent.
Experts have said that there are many reasons why women are mostly affected by the suicidal trend. As per the data, women make up a larger proportion of part-time workers in hotels, food service, and retail sectors. In these sectors, job layoffs have been extensive. A global study, which has been done on 10000 people by an international non-profit organization called ‘Care’ has said that 27 percent of women have reported increased issues linked to mental health during the pandemic. At the same time, only 10 percent of men have said that they have been dealing with mental health issues. The study has found that women have been dealing with high-unpaid care burdens as well. Women who have kept their jobs find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance during this tough situation. From protecting children from the virus to sending them to a childcare center, women bear most of the responsibilities. Women have been facing high anxiety issues about the health and wellbeing of their children. These factors have triggered mental health issues among women amid the COVID19 pandemic.