More than 30,000 suicides have been committed in Japan in each year since 1998. Although the number of suicides in 2008 dropped by 844, or 2.6 percent, from 2007 to 32,249, this year’s trend is troubling. From January through August, 22,362 people took their own lives, a rise of 971 or 4.5 percent from the same period of 2008.

This year, the number of suicides in each month through August was greater than in the corresponding months last year. The economic downturn is believed to be fueling this trend. If the current rate continues, the number of suicides in 2009 will approach the most ever recorded in a year, 34,427 in 2003.

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