Friday, June 24, 2011

Japan’s suicide rates soar by up to 39 per cent in areas hit by the earthquake - 24th June 2011

The March 11 earthquake in Japan wreaked immediate devastation, but now there are concerns about the mental health of those that survived it, with suicide rates rapidly increasing in areas hit by the disaster.

One of the areas most affected by the 9.0-magnitude tremor was Miyagi Prefecture and there suicides are up by 39 per cent. Many survivors are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, with some having lost everything.

Japan already has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with 31,690 killing themselves last year. Now officials fear that this year’s total will far exceed this.

One of the worst hit towns was Yamada. Public health official
Yuko Sasaki explained that one survivor there could not bare living without his family, who all perished.

She told The Japan Times: ‘One of them lost his wife and two children in the tsunami and could not bare the distress and guilt of surviving them.’

She added: ‘The situation has calmed down, but there is concern about the long-term psychological impact on residents, many of whom have lost everything.’

Her worries were echoed by a report produced by the Japanese government.

It said: ‘As well as grief, survivors also experience guilt because, although they tried to escape together, only some were saved. Then there is the shock of identifying bodies, for aid workers as well as victims, resulting in chronic depression or prolonged grief disorder.’

Some of the suicides recorded have been tied to the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

One dairy farmer in Soma, which lies just 45km from Fukushima No.1 plant, hanged himself after a ban on milk from the area meant that he had to sell his herd of cows.

He left a note that read: ‘If only there wasn't a nuclear power plant. I have lost the energy to carry on working.’ Read More