Japan is taking a new initiative to combat the rising rate of suicide in the country. Appointed to the role, Minister of Loneliness, Tetsushi Sakamoto is tasked with easing the spike in sentiments of depression and isolation across the country.
Due to the ongoing seclusion necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are struggling to deal with the ramifications of extended sequestering on the psyche.
In 2020, Japan saw a rise in suicide rates for the first time in 11 years. The month of October accounted for 2,153 deaths alone. The number of COVID-19 deaths at the time totaled 1,765.
Michiko Ueda, a professor who researches and studies suicides in Japan asserts that women are currently the most at-risk demographic. Specifically young or single women as “They have to support their own lives and they don’t have permanent jobs. So, when something happens, of course, they are hit very, very hard.”
The Minister of Loneliness will attempt to engage with the public to prevail over these harmful inclinations. Ideally creating an open and healthy dialogue regarding mental health.
In a press conference on February 12th, Sakamoto shared that he hoped “to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people”.