Suicide prevention needs regional touch, experts find

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

The effectiveness of suicide prevention programs differs depending on region, age and gender, according to a study recently released by the health ministry and the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry.

In a 3½-year project, the two entities implemented more extensive prevention programs in 11 areas known for high suicide rates in Akita, Aomori and Iwate prefectures as well as southern Kyushu. Together, these areas have a total population of 631,133 people.

The prevention efforts were more focused and multifaceted than programs normally run by local governments. They included educational activities, home visits and counseling.

According to the results disclosed last week, the 11 areas with robust programs saw a roughly 20 percent further decrease of the incidence ratio of men of any age and men and women aged 65 or older who attempted or committed suicide compared to areas with less robust programs.

The figures did not improve, however, for women and younger people.

In contrast, research conducted in six more densely populated urban areas in Sendai, Chiba and Kitakyushu, with a total population of 1,319,972, showed that it was difficult to run focused multifaceted prevention programs in the same manner as the 11 rural areas due to manpower limitations.

“This is a major finding. Instead of implementing the same measures for all people, the prevention measures need to be carefully crafted for different groups of people,” said Yutaka Ono, who heads the center for cognitive behavior therapy and research at NCNP and oversaw the research.