Almost a quarter of junior high school students in Hokkaido who responded to a recent survey suffer depression-linked symptoms, with almost one in five exhibiting possible suicidal tendencies.

These students, along with around 8 percent of elementary school students in the prefecture, showed strong emotions linked to depression, including the urge to cry, loneliness or being unhappy with whatever they did, according to the psychiatry researcher who released the survey Monday.

It is the first time a large survey of this kind has targeted elementary and junior high school students. The survey was conducted by a team led by Kenzo Denda, an assistant professor on child psychiatry at Hokkaido University.

The results also showed suicidal tendencies among a number of children.

Questionnaires were sent to schools that cooperated in the survey between October and December. Written responses were obtained from 2,175 junior high school students and 1,156 elementary school students.

The survey found that 7.8 percent of the responding elementary school students and 22.8 percent of the junior high school students suffer from depressive illness as defined under international standards.

The survey found that girls were about 1.6 times more likely than boys to suffer depressive illness, and this demonstrates a rising trend among girls starting in the last year of elementary school and boys from their first year in junior high school.

In Japan, elementary school lasts six years and junior high three years.

Overall, many boys and girls said they could not perform things well in a way that they want to.

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