Fukushima’s high number of disaster-related suicides likely due to nuclear crisis: Cabinet Office

KYODO

The number of suicides in Fukushima Prefecture linked to 3/11 is higher than elsewhere, most likely because of the nuclear disaster, according to the Cabinet Office.

Fifty-six suicides in Fukushima between June 2011, when they began to be tracked, and this July, were linked to the disasters of March 11, 2011.

The extended time that evacuees have had to stay away from their homes may have affected the Fukushima figure, a Cabinet Office official said.

Although the Cabinet Office has set up a suicide prevention hotline and dispatched counselors to aid residents of temporary housing in Fukushima, such measures have proved to be insufficient.

Officials said Iwate and Miyagi, the two other prefectures hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami, had fewer disaster-related suicides. The number was 30 in Iwate and 37 in Miyagi.

Since 10 people in Fukushima took their lives in 2011, the number has risen steadily, reaching 13 in 2012 and 23 in 2013. As of July, 10 suicides in the prefecture had been recorded this year.

Factors such as suicide notes and relatives’ statements are used to help determine whether 3/11 contributed to a person’s death.