15 April, 2013

Incredibly moving video

Yesterday I watched a video recommended by missionaries in Japan about Suicide in Japan. It is by an Irishman who's "declared war" on suicide here. It is a 50 minute video. That may be too long for you, so I've outlined some of the things I learned yesterday (or was reminded of) when I watched it.

“Saving 10,000 details a compendium of outrages tolerated and even encouraged by society that have kept Japan a world leader in suicide. Incredibly moving.
— Sam Jameson – Former Tokyo Bureau Chief of LA Times and Chicago Tribune.

30,000 people die every year from suicide in Japan. It is a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It is a subject that is glorified in the society, and equally, avoided. An absolute tragedy.

I was particularly touched by the story right at the end. A Japanese man, whose job used to include going out in his boat and collecting the bodies of people who'd jumped off some famous suicide cliffs in his local town. After he retired he went back to that town and set up a coffee shop near the cliffs, and developed a network of people who patrol the three areas along the cliffs where people can jump. They simply talk to people who are sitting there, possibly contemplating taking their own lives. 

He said that back some time ago when Japan's national traffic accident death toll was something like 12,000 people a year, the government took responsibility and have now reduced it to something like 5,000 a year. But no one has taken responsibility for reducing the suicide rate, which sits much higher than 12,000 a year!

This man and his volunteers have saved nearly 300 people in the last few years by their patrols and listening ears. Amazing!

The video talks about some of the different risk groups for suicide:

  • students (suicide is very high among university students, bullying is a significant issue in schools)
  • elderly (1/3 of suicides are by people over 60)
  • mental illness (but getting inadequate care, see below)
  • Shinjuku area (many young girls who come in from the country and are looking for hope, but end up in the sex industry)
  • retirees
  • loneliness kills many people in Japan
  • authors (a large number of well-known Japanese authors have committed suicide)
Mental health
I knew that this area was somewhat deficient in Japan, but didn't realise how badly. The video explained that very little is done for people who aren't suffering from psychosis. Depression and all those other mental health issues are barely touched. The system doesn't have much in the way of other options, such as counselling or support groups. In many cases, people present to the ER with self-inflicted injuries or suicide attempts, are patched up and sent home without any support.

Life insurance pays out for suicides in Japan, after something like a three year wait. Unbelievable!

Isn't recognised as an issue in Japan.

Is illegal, but Pachinko (gaming machines) centres are very common.

Honourable solution
Suicide is viewed romantically in literature and film here. It has long been considered an honourable solution. It isn't uncommon to hear of someone in leadership in Japan committing suicide, especially if the group they lead has been involved in some kind of scandal.

You can watch the whole video above, or you can go to the website and watch the trailers: http://www.saving10000.com/

Here are some other times I've mentioned suicide in Japan on this blog:


Shan in Japan said...

Wendy, thank you for posting this. It will probably get recycled to my blog, if you don't mind. I haven't watched the video yet, but will be doing that next.
Thank you for continuing to help educate others about the needs in Japan. Blessings!

Wendy said...

No problem Shan, spread the word!