While the number of people taking their own lives continues to decline in Japan, suicides involving youths under the age of 20 are a growing problem. The number of suicides across the country last year fell to 20,840 for the ninth consecutive year-on-year decline — significantly down from the peak of 34,427 in 2003. But the number of children who killed themselves increased by 32 to 599, and the ratio of suicides per 100,000 children rose to 2.8, the worst on record, although the suicide rate is still far lower than in other age groups.
In 2017, suicide for the first time was the leading cause of death among youths aged 10 to 14, accounting for 23 percent of all deaths in this age group. While accidents and cancer have sharply declined as causes of children’s deaths over the past 50 years, the number of suicides in this age group has more than tripled.