Number of Students Committing Suicide Exceeds 500 for 1st Time in 2022

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry

The number of suicides among elementary, junior high and high school students was 514 in 2022, marking the highest number as well as the first time the figure exceeded 500 since 1980, when the statistics began being compiled, according to a report released Tuesday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Police Agency.

The health ministry believes the number is partly due to the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted school and family life.

Of the total, 354 were high school students, an increase of 40 from the previous year, and 143 were junior high schoolers, down 5 from the previous year. Seventeen were elementary school students, an increase of 6 compared to the prior year.

The figure rises to 1,063, the highest ever, for the “student” category, comprising elementary, junior high, high school, university and other students.

When the causes and motives behind the suicides were analyzed, discord with friends and discord between parents and children stood out, in addition to poor academic performance and worries about career paths.

“Although everyone has worries about school life and career paths, the number of people who are unable to talk to friends about their problems is probably increasing due to the weakening of relationships possibly caused by the prolonged pandemic,” said Kansai University’s Prof. Fumiharu Yamagata, an expert on children’s welfare.

The total number of suicides increased for the first time in two years to 21,881, up 4.2%, or 874, from the previous year. Among that figure, the number of men increased for the first time in 13 years to 14,746, which lifted the total number of suicides. The number of women increased for the third consecutive year to 7,135.

By age group, those in their 50s accounted for the largest number, followed by people in their 40s and 70s.

Health problems were the most common cause, while financial matters and personal problems, including family and debt troubles, also stood out.