• Kyodo News

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The number of people who killed themselves in the January-June period this year dropped 1,254 from a year ago to 14,828, according to Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s population statistics released Thursday.

On a monthly basis, the ministry’s monthly “vital statistics” showed the number of suicides dropped for the 10 consecutive months through June. The annual sum could fall below 30,000 for the first time since 2002, the ministry said.

One official said that although the number is at a high level, one factor attributable to the downtrend is an improvement in the job market amid a growing economy.

Of all the deaths reported to municipal governments in the first six months of this year, suicides were cited as the cause in 14,828 cases. Year-on-year declines were marked among men in their 40s and 50s.

In 2005, the ministry’s statistics indicated 30,553 people killed themselves.

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