AKITA – The Akita Prefectural Government has earmarked 3 million yen in its fiscal 2000 budget to wage a campaign against the high suicide rate among its population, according to prefectural officials.
The prefecture had the highest suicide rate in Japan for four consecutive years beginning in 1995.
The rate for 1999 is as yet unavailable, but according to the prefectural police force, 514 residents committed suicide in Akita in 1999, up 9 percent from a year before.
A study conducted by police showed that in more than 80 percent of the cases, those who killed themselves left suicide notes and told people around them they wanted to die.
An increase in the number of people aged 65 or older committing suicide has also become prominent, they said.
According to the prefectural officials, the money will be used to study the causes of suicide and on a public information campaign.
The prefectural government will ask university researchers to study the suicides that took place in municipalities with high suicide rates, they said.
The researchers will conduct detailed studies of how those who committed suicide lived and how their families treated them, by collecting specific background information from families, relatives and friends, they said.
The prefectural police also will analyze and compare data on past suicide cases.
Takayuki Kageyama, associate professor at Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences in Oita Prefecture, said: “The suicide rate is high in remote areas, and the proportion of old people is high among people committing suicide.
“Not many studies address these issues, although both factors are found in Akita Prefecture.”