Police linked 37 suicides last year in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to the March 2011 disaster, up 13 from a year earlier, with the tally rising progressively each year in Fukushima, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The figures from the three prefectures hit hardest by the quake and tsunami, with the nuclear crisis compounding the situation in Fukushima, were part of the national suicide tally of 27,283, down 2.1 percent, the fourth straight year of decline, the NPA said.

"The impact of the nuclear accident is prolonging people's stay in evacuated locations, and this could have affected" the Fukushima figure, an official in the Cabinet Office said.