Roughly one in four Japanese people have considered committing suicide, with women slightly more prone to such thoughts than men, the health ministry said Tuesday.

In a survey released by the ministry, 23.6 percent of respondents had considered suicide, up 0.2 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in 2012. The ratio stood at 25.6 percent for women and 21.4 percent for men.

By age, people in their 50s were more prone to suicidal thoughts than those in other age brackets, at 30.1 percent, followed by those in their 30s (28.7 percent), 40s (24.3 percent), 20s (23.0 percent), 60s (20.2 percent), and people aged 70 or older (19.1 percent).

Among the respondents, 18.9 percent said they had thought of suicide in the past year.

Asked how they were able to overcome their suicidal thoughts in a multiple-answer question, 36.7 percent said they shifted their focuses to hobbies or work, while 32.1 percent said they confided in family members, friends or co-workers.

The survey also asked about knowledge of public suicide prevention measures and services. About 6.9 percent of respondents said they were aware of the nationwide suicide prevention phone service, while 5 percent said they knew about weeklong and monthlong national campaigns for suicide prevention.

Since awareness levels of public measures and services for suicide prevention remains low, the Cabinet plans to bolster steps with a plan to approve the outline of new measures this summer.

"We would like to further promote notification of consultation services and development of mental health measures at workplaces," an official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The survey was conducted last October on 3,000 people aged 20 or older, with 2,019 valid responses.

According to separate data from the National Police Agency, the number of suicides totaled 21,764 in 2016, falling for the seventh consecutive year.