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Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 10:37 EDT
   TOKYO - Suicides in Japan topped 30,000 for the eighth straight year in 2005, with the numbers increasing for those in their 40s or younger, the National Police Agency said Thursday. The report said those in their 50s or older still accounted for more than half of the total, but the ratio of this age group decreased from the previous year. A total of 32,552 people committed suicide last year, up 0.7% from 2004, when there was 32,325 suicides, the report said. Men, at 23,540, accounted for more than 70% of those who killed themselves, while women accounted for 9,012. By age, people 60 or older accounted for the largest number of suicides, at 10,894, down 0.9%, followed by those in their 50s, at 7,586, down 2.4%. The younger groups saw an increase. Those in their 40s accounted for 5,208, up 2.1%, followed by those in their 30s, at 4,606, up 6.3%, and those in their 20s, at 3,409, up 5%.

  Health problems were seen as the most common presumed reason behind suicides, accounting for 15,014 people, up 1.5%, followed by economic and livelihood difficulties for 7,756 people, down 2.4%, and family troubles for 3,019 people, up 0.9%, the NPA said. Among cases with suicide notes, health problems were the most common reason behind the suicides of those in their 20s and 30s, while economic and livelihood hardships were the most common among those in their 40s and 50s. Unemployed people accounted for nearly half of the total, at 15,409, down 0.3%, but company employees committing suicide increased by 5.3% to 8,312. Suicides by self-employed people decreased by 4.1% to 3,700. The number of students committing suicide totaled 861, up 9.8%, which was the second largest since the NPA began the survey in 1978. Of the total, there were seven elementary school students, 66 junior high school students, and 215 high school students. University students accounted for more than half of the total at 433. The number of suicides shifted around 20,000 since the survey began in 1978 but surged in 1998 to top 30,000 for the first time and has stayed at that level since. (Kyodo News)
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Japan Suicide Rate