Japan recorded 415 suicides among school children aged 6 to 18 during the 2020 school year – the highest number since records began in 1974.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that there were several reasons behind the suicides, including family problems, poor school results, relationships with other children, and illness. NHK said the reason behind more than half of the suicides in the last school year was unknown.
The figure was 31% higher than the previous school year, when 317 school children died.
“The rise in suicides is extremely alarming,” Eguchi Arachika, head of Japan’s Ministry of Education’s Department of Children and Student Affairs, told NHK.
Japan’s Ministry of Education conducts an annual survey of schools at all levels and compiles data on suicide, bullying and truancy.
Wednesday’s report also found that more than 190,000 elementary and junior high school students had been out of class for 30 days or more in the previous school year, NHK said. That’s a record high – and about 8% more than last year.
“The results suggest that the pandemic has changed the school and family environment and affected children’s behaviour,” Eguchi said. “I want to promote efforts to make it easier to share ways where people can get help and ensure that children who can’t go to school continue to learn.”
The survey showed nearly 30,000 students were away from school for 30 days or more because of concerns about coronavirus infections, NHK reported.