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Mondays had the most suicides in Japan in 2003, with the most common hour being around 5 a.m. for men and around noon for women, an analysis by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showed Friday.

The ministry analyzed suicides in 2003 according to the day of the week, excluding national and yearend holidays, and the hour they took place.

The number of suicides rose to a record high 32,109 in the reporting year, exceeding 30,000 for the sixth straight year, the ministry said.

The ministry said men tended to commit suicide in the early morning, apparently wanting to avoid being noticed by others, while women did so around noon when they were alone at home after their families had gone to work or school.

It said it intends to use the analysis results to map out suicide prevention measures.

The ministry said 73 percent of those who committed suicide were men.

Mondays had the most suicides, with an average of 80.7 males and 27.3 females killing themselves, while Saturday had the fewest, with an average of 53.3 males and 21.2 females.

By hour, 6.2 percent of men committed suicide between 5 and 6 a.m., while 5.6 percent of women committed suicide between noon and 1 p.m.

By month, April had the highest daily rate of suicides, with 103.2 people killing themselves per day, and May the second-highest, with an average of 100.3 people killing themselves daily.

By age bracket, males in their 50s were the largest group of people committing suicide.

Death by hanging was the most common method, but group suicide through gas inhalation also increased, with 3,538 people involved, up by 2,024 from 2002.

Japan has seen a series of incidents in which strangers got together through the Internet and committed suicide in a group, typically using charcoal stoves inside sealed environments, including vehicles.

By prefecture, Akita had the highest suicide rate for both men and women, while Kanagawa had the lowest for men and Saga the lowest for women.

The National Police Agency earlier said in a similar study on suicides that over a quarter of the suicides in 2003 are believed to have stemmed from economic difficulties.

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