The slide into recession last year wasn't just a blow to "Abenomics," as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's fiscal policies are known.

For some here in the Group of Seven country with the highest suicide rate, it may pose a question of life and death.

Abe's concerted campaign to spark confidence in a population dulled by two decades of economic stagnation contributed to a 14-month slide in the number of suicides. The improvement halted in September, when the country entered its fourth recession since 2008.