• Kyodo

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The number of suicides in Japan dropped in 2014 for the fifth straight year, but the margin of decline among people under 40 was relatively small, indicating there is still “a serious problem” among the younger generation, the government said in a report released Monday.

The total number of suicides dropped to 25,427, down 1,856 from the year before and staying below 30,000 for the third consecutive year, according to the white paper on suicide prevention measures.

Men accounted for 68 percent of the total, compared with 32 percent for women. Health problems were the top reason for suicide, accounting for 12,920 of the total, followed by financial and family problems, according to the report.

People younger than 40 accounted for 6,581 deaths, roughly 26 percent of the total. This has prompted the government to call for phone counseling services late at night, as data between 1972 and 2013 showed the greatest number of suicides was committed by men in that age group, at around midnight.

The white paper also said that suicides by people aged 18 or younger were concentrated around early April and early September, typically the start of school terms.

Noting the trend, the report said schools, communities and family members need to carefully monitor changes in children’s behavior after long school breaks.

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