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In Japan, more people died from suicide last month than from Covid in all of 2020. And women have been impacted most
Tokyo (CNN) Eriko Kobayashi has tried to kill herself four times.
The first time, she was just 22 years old with a full-time job in publishing that didn’t pay enough to cover her rent and grocery bills in Tokyo.
“I was really poor,” said Kobayashi, who spent three days unconscious in hospital after the incident.Now 43, Kobayashi has written books on her mental health struggles and has a steady job at an NGO. But the coronavirus is bringing back the stress she used to feel.
“My salary was cut, and I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I constantly feel a sense of crisis that I might fall back into poverty.
“Experts have warned that the pandemic could lead to a mental health crisis. Mass unemployment, social isolation, and anxiety are taking their toll on people globally.In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date.
The monthly number of Japanese suicides rose to 2,153 in October, according to Japan’s National Police Agency.As of Friday, Japan’s total Covid-19 toll was 2,087, the health ministry said.
Japan is one of the few major economies to disclose timely suicide data — the most recent national data for the US, for example, is from 2018. The Japanese data could give other countries insights into the impact of pandemic measures on mental health, and which groups are the most vulnerable.
“We didn’t even have a lockdown, and the impact of Covid is very minimal compared to other countries … but still we see this big increase in the number of suicides,” said Michiko Ueda, an associate professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, and an expert on suicides.