The government’s latest update to its program dealing with the persistent problem of suicides calls for a 30 percent cut in the ratio of suicides per 100,000 people — which is declining but still the worst among the Group of Seven countries — in the next decade. What’s worrying is that the ratio has remained roughly flat among youths under 20, including those cornered into taking their own lives after being bullied at school. Suicide is the top cause of death among Japanese from those in their late teens to people in their 30s.

Among the efforts to stop youth suicides, the new measures adopted last week call for developing a system to provide counseling on social networking sites to schoolchildren suffering from bullying as well as promoting education in schools that encourages troubled kids to cry out for help. For such efforts to work, teachers and school officials must be counted on to act when distressed children ask them for help, and support needs to be provided to enable them to do the job.

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