Japan puts cost of suicides, depression at $32 billion in 2009 - International Business Times
The comments on Japan mental health and suicide are inaccurate. There were (not “are” ) samurai warriors who, as part of their honour code, committed seppuku (the correct term in Japanese and not the colloquial misnomer “harakiri” often misused and misunderstood in English media reports) is performed by plunging a sword into the abdomen and moving the sword left to right in a slicing motion. Seppuku was officially abolished as a means of judicial punishment in Japan in 1873. Voluntary seppuku did happen on a sporadic basis from then until the end of the second world war. The last recorded incident of seppuku as a means of committing suicide in Japan took place in 1970 when the novelist Yukio Mishima committed seppuku after failing in his attempt to incite military forces to stage a coup d’etat. No corporate directors have ever “done the hara-kiri tradition”, whatever that odd and meaningless expression would try to suggest is the case.
Some companies are beginning to provide better mental health counseling at the workplace but there is no official government provision. Community psychiatric clinics were first established in the mid-1970’s by a generation of young Japanese psychiatrists who wanted to provide an alternative to hospitalization of those people suffering mental illness through community out-patient and adult rehabilitation daycare centers outside of a hospital setting.
As for the comments on what to do if you know someone is suicidal, although perhaps well intended and useful to a point, they are not enough in themselves. If someone is suicidal they need the help of mental health professionals who are trained and experienced in working with people who are depressed and suicidal. If you know someone who is suicidal encourage them to see a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist. If they are not willing to do so contact a mental health care professional to get their advice on the situation. Also if the person who is suicidal is not willing to get professional help at this point then, if you are in a position to do so get in touch with a member of the person’s family and tell them of your concern. Do something about it and take whatever action you are reasonable in a position to do.
I think this kind of reporting does nothing to help focus on the deeper social and economic causes that brought about the extreme rise in the suicide rate in Japan and has taken the number of people here who kill themselves every year in Japan to over 30,000 for the last ten years. The initial sudden rise in the suicide rate in 1998 parallels the economic bubble years of the 1990's that led to the crash of the Japanese stock market and bankrupt companies nationwide. In America and other countries it might be a better idea to focus on how to protect citizens and provide better mental health care screening and provision for employees and others who are being affected by the fallout of the current economic meltdown and ensuing high unemployment rates, rather that piecemeal articles that focus on seppuku. In modern Japan most businessmen who commit suicide do so by hanging themselves, often alone in their own homes.