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Suicide in Japan



Sunday, June 20, 2010 Japan Times READERS IN COUNCIL
Suicide in Japan: "Bringing down the suicide rate" By ANDREW GRIMES Tokyo

As a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist working in Tokyo for over 20 years, I would like to put forward a perspective on the unacceptably high suicide numbers in Japan. Mental health professionals in Japan have long known that the reasons for the high suicide rate are unemployment, bankruptcies, and the increasing levels of stress on businessmen and other salaried workers who have suffered enormous hardship since the post-"bubble" economy hit a low point around 1997. Until that year, Japan had between 22,000 and 24,000 suicides a year. In 1998 the rate increased by around 35 percent, and since 1998 the number of people killing themselves each year in Japan has consistently remained over 30,000. The current worldwide recession is, of course, impacting Japan, so unless the new administration initiates very proactive and well funded local and nationwide suicide prevention programs and other mental health care initiatives, including tackling the widespread problem of clinical depression suffered by so many of the general population, it is very difficult to foresee the previous government's stated target to reduce the suicide rate to around 23,000 by 2016 as being achievable. On the contrary, the suffering that people who become part of these numbers have to endure may well stay at current levels. I would like to suggest that since many Japanese have high reading skills in English, any articles dealing with mental health issues in Japan provide contact details for hotlines and support services for people who are depressed and feeling suicidal. Here are two useful telephone numbers for Japanese and English-speakers who are feeling depressed or suicidal and need to get in touch with a mental health professional qualified in Japan — Inochi no Denwa (Lifeline Telephone Service): Japan 0120-738-556/Tokyo 3264-4343

depression

How to recognize Depression in yourself or others


 

If you think that you yourself or someone you know and care about may be suffering from depression the following list of possible indications and symptoms of clinical depression to look for in yourself or in someone you know may be of help. It is important to note that the in the case of people suffering from relatively less severe forms of depression such as those termed 'mild depression', 'moderate depression' and dysthymia do not necessarily have to have all of these indications or symptoms in order to be considered as having clinical depression:

Lacking interest in the activities and interests you usually enjoy most, for example not getting any positive effects or enjoyment when listening to your favourite music.

A loss of your appetite or enjoyment of your food may be an indication of depression. On the other hand some people may eat more than usual and put on weight.

Sleeping badly with shallow sleep or insomnia or sleeping for excessively longer periods of time (hyperinsomnia) than your normal sleeping pattern.

Still feeling tired, ‘heavy’ or without your usual sense of “get up and go” after you wake up.

Experiencing inexplicable feelings of fatigue or loss of energy as you go through your usual daily routine.

For some people depression may be associated with feeling low and depressed when you wake up every day, which may lessen as the day progresses but sometimes may not people.

For other people depression may manifest itself in feeling a little low in the mornings and with a growing deepening of this feeling into more depression during the day and feeling more and depressed as day draws to an end.

Not calling or emailing your friends for family as often as you used to or usually would.

Feeling sad, unhappy or miserable without any specific cause or reason for feeling so.

Feeling hopeless and negative about your future.

Feeling emotionally ‘empty’ or not feeling anything

Lacking your usual level of self-confidence and a lowering of your self-image and self-esteem.

depression

What to do if you think you may be in depression or worried that you are at risk of falling into depression or thinking of suicide?



If you think or feel you are, or maybe already are, suffering from clinical depression or having thoughts of suicide, the sooner you go for treatment and counseling the better. The longer you delay in getting professional help and medical opinion then it can affect the time it takes for you to recover and get better again. It is important to note that in Japan only medical doctors/psychiatrists who are licensed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour are legally allowed to diagnose, treat and prescribe or recommend medication for the treatment of clinical depression or any other kind of mental disorder or illness. Clinical Psychologists and Japanese Federation for Psychotherapy qualified Psychotherapists in Japan can and do provide psychological and social support in the form of counseling and psychotherapy. If you are already under the medical supervison of a doctor/pscyhiatrist and think you may benefit from counseling or psychotherapy then you should first consult with your doctor to discuss whete she or he feels it would be okay to do so in parallel with or after a period of medical treatment. If you feel you are, or possibly may be, clinically depressed, then go now as soon as you can to see and talk about how you are feeling with a psychiatrist who is licensed in Japan. There are over 14,000 througout Japan. However you may usually feel about taking medication, talking with a Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare nationally licensed doctor/psychiatrist (there are over 270,000 dotors throughout Japan) will give you a professional opinion, diagnosis and assesment of your condition and an understanding of what are your treatment options are to help you recover and get out of depression as quickly and efficiently as possible.

depression

How can I find a Psychiatrist in Tokyo and Japan legally licensed by the Ministry of Heath, Labour and Welfare to treat me for depression?



If you feel think you could be suffering from Clinical Depression or you feel depressed to the point where you feel consulting with a license doctor or psychiatrist to talk together and get her/his opinion on your condition and as to whether a course of medication could be of benefit to you then you should as soon go to see a doctor as soon as possible. This is not as difficult as you may think because, as previously mentioned, there are in fact over 14,000 psychiatrists practicing in community based psychiatric clinics (usually non-bed medical facillities that see patients on an 'out-patient' basis) and hospitals throughout Japan. who hold the national license to practice medicine by passing the national licensing examinations as is legally required in Japan.

Naturally for people who have not learned Japanese before coming to Japan they can of course experience difficulties, here are some contact details for other counseling and medical information centers to help them:

AMDA International Medical Information Center:
"In multiple languages, we introduce medical facilities with staff who speak the patients' languages and explain the Japanese Health Care System."
Tokyo/Kanto region TEL : 03-5285-8088 - Kansai region TEL: 06-4395-0555

Himari
- Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center
Information about medical services in English and other languages: 03-5285-8181
Emergency translation services in English and other languages: 03-5285-8185

Useful Links in Japanese:

The Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board For Clinical Psychologists

Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists (JSCCP)

Japanese Association of Psychiatric Social Workers

How to Find a JSCCP Approved Counseling Center Throughout Japan
(This is the web version of the JSCCP publication: "Rinshoushinrishi deau tame ni" which gives information, addresses and contact details of all JSCCP Approved Counseling Centers and private clinical practices of registered Clinical Psychologists in Japan.)

"Suicide in Japan"
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