Suicides above 30,000 for 13th year

Joblessness, family troubles increasingly cited as causes

Kyodo News

Suicides eased to 31,690 last year but stayed above the 30,000 mark for the 13th year running, meaning an average of nearly 90 people took their lives each day, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

While the rate is down 3.5 percent from 2009, the number who killed themselves because they couldn’t find a job jumped 19.8 percent to 424.

Suicides triggered by family troubles also surged, climbing 9.2 percent to 4,497 compared with 2009.

The NPA said it will step up efforts to offer counseling and other services because the persistently high suicide rate is apparently linked to a “deep freeze” in the job market, as well as to the weakening of interpersonal relationships in society.

The number of suicides caused by reasons that could be deduced from notes and other materials left behind totaled 23,572, with the bulk of the deaths (15,802) laid to mental and physical health problems, followed by economic reasons (7,438).

A total of 1,207 people killed themselves over strained relations with spouses, while 575 did so because of poor ties with parents or children. Another 157 committed suicide over worries about how to raise children and 317 due to exhaustion from caring for relatives or others requiring nursing care.

Suicides caused by economic reasons, however, fell 11.2 percent, indicating that debts, personal bankruptcies and other financial distress caused by the global financial crisis that erupted in autumn 2008 might have eased a bit as the economy began to recover, the agency said.

But it also said the enforcement of more stringent regulations on loan-sharking was another reason for the drop in finance-related suicides.

Net crime at new high

The number of Internet crimes detected by police in 2010 jumped 31.3 percent from the previous year to 5,199, the highest since officials began compiling comparable data in 2000, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Online auction fraud surged 29.7 percent to 677 cases. The figure nearly dropped by half in 2009 thanks to intermediary services, in which agents keep auctioned items and send them after confirming the payment, but the number of transactions bypassing such services increased in 2010.

Child pornography cases shot up 54.4 percent to 783 on the back of tighter crackdowns, while copyright law violations, such as unauthorized postings of television shows, almost doubled to 368.

The number of crimes using file-sharing software more than doubled to 291.

The NPA said it received 75,810 inquiries on crimes related to the Internet and other information technologies, down 9.5 percent.

While inquiries on fraud and Net auctions declined, those on junk e-mail soared 50.4 percent to 9,836 cases.