There is still a possibility that final tallies, which will be published in March, will show a slight increase to above 20,000, the ministry said.
The ministry’s figures show that 2019 marked a 10th consecutive year-on-year decrease in the number of suicides, down 881 people — or 4.2 percent — from a year earlier.
Nonaka cited economic recovery and concerted efforts led by the government to rein in the number of suicides as possible reasons behind the recent decline, although the official said singling out specific factors is difficult.
Yasuyuki Shimizu, who runs Lifelink, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization aimed at preventing suicides, said the 2006 enactment of a landmark anti-suicide law triggered the overall trend of declines.
“Municipalities should do more to help their residents live their lives, and the government should support such policies more robustly,” he said.
Japan may have witnessed a general decline in the number of suicides, but there is one demographic that has proven to be an outlier: youth.
“Preventing suicides of the young is an issue of utmost urgency,” he said. »