• Kyodo News

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The government outlined suicide-prevention guidelines Friday featuring a reduction target of at least 20 percent by 2016.

The package was formulated after it was reported that more than 30,000 people killed themselves in 2006, the ninth straight year that level has been exceeded.

Japan’s first comprehensive antisuicide guidelines are based on a basic prevention law put into place last October. If the target is realized, the suicide rate should decrease to 19.4 per 100,000 people in 2016 from 24.2 in 2005.

The package, formalized at a Cabinet meeting, emphasizes the need to address both social factors, including unemployment and heavy debts, and mental health problems when creating suicide prevention steps.

It calls for efforts for the early detection of depression and the elimination of prejudice against people with mental disorders. The outline also presents suicide situations and preventive measures for different generations.

It says there is a need to provide preventive education to children and teachers as a step toward helping young people, while stating it is important to help middle-aged working people alleviate stress arising from such factors as unemployment and overwork.

As for elderly people, the outline calls for helping them find a fresh purpose in life and enhancing support for those in need of nursing care.

As for other priorities, the package urges promotion of mental health care in the workplace, stepped-up efforts against suicide notices on the Internet, as well as support for relatives of people who have committed or attempted suicide.

According to reports compiled by the National Police Agency, 32,155 committed suicide in 2006, exceeding 30,000 for the ninth consecutive year. The outline warns that the number is much higher than those in other industrialized nations.

While the total number of suicides declined slightly from 2005, suicides of elderly people as well as minors increased.

The government had set the suicide reduction rate target in its April draft at 20 percent by 2016, but modified the goal to more than 20 percent following criticism that the target was too low.

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