Suicides Surge in Japan's Military
By AIKO HAYASHI
Associated Press Writer
August 20, 2004, 1:41 AM EDT
TOKYO -- Suicides are surging this year among Japan's increasingly active military and have hit a record pace that outstrips the national rate, the Defense Agency said.
In the first four months of this fiscal year, which began in April, 31 members of the Self-Defense Forces killed themselves, a spokesperson for the Defense Agency said Thursday.
If the trend continues, the military would suffer 93 suicides for the year, with an annual rate of 39 suicides per 100,000 soldiers -- far above the rate of 27 suicides per 100,000 reported in fiscal 2003 in the general population.
The highest number of suicides among Japanese soldiers in one year so far is 78 in 2002. The Self-Defense Forces has 235,899 members.
Suicides in Japan in general hit an all-time high last year at 34,427, the National Police Agency reported last month. The trend was blamed on health and financial troubles.
The rise in military suicides comes as Japan has deployed troops on a humanitarian mission to Iraq, the first time Japanese soldiers have gone to a combat zone since the end of World War II.
The Defense Agency spokesperson refused to comment on the reasons for the increase or release details such as the locations of the deaths.
But Yumiko Misaki, acting director of the Tokyo Lifeline counseling service, said Japan's soldiers have been under increasing emotional strain in recent years.
"The change in environment in the military, such as the transfer of members away from their families, makes it difficult for them to find a place they feel at ease," she said.
The threat of violence also is taking its toll, Misaki said.
"They feel more fear than ordinary people," she added.
Suicide is too often a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I am not making light of it. My own first-born killed himself.
Yes it is suicide rates in Japan are several times higher that the US.
Suicide rates are also much higher for most of Europe that the US.
The Neutral Observer wonders if it is the Western kind of suicide (depression, etc) or the Japanese kind of suicide. You know, like:
"Private, you have positioned that machine gun incorrectly!"
"Hai! I have dishonored myself, my unit, and my ancestors, and now must disembowel myself with a sword!"
That kind. How much have the Japanese changed since World War 2?
Suicide: The most selfish crime of them all.
Drinking now so I can't do the math....
But the increase doesn't look significant (stats wise). The sample size for the sub group is only 240k, and the rate of increase and trend over time is not given.
Plus, they are comparing general pop numbers to military group numbers. Military is going to be male, able bodied, 18-45 years old. You have to compare your numbers to the same sub group in the general pop. (No little kids are going to kill themselves, and most old folks won't...and then you have women, a lot of whom make gestures but don't really do what it takes to die)