Japan recorded 415 suicides among students aged 6 to 18 during the 2020 school year – the highest number since enrollment began in 1974.
A number of factors were behind the suicides, including family problems, poor school results, relationships with other children and illness, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. The reason for more than half of the suicides reported last school year was unknown, NHK said.
The figure was 31% higher than last school year, when 317 students died.
“The rise in suicides is extremely alarming,” Eguchi Arichika, head of the children and student affairs department at Japan’s education ministry, told NHK.
The Ministry of Education of Japan conducts an annual survey of schools at all levels and compiles data on suicides, harassment and neglect.
Wednesday’s report also found that more than 190,000 elementary and high school students were out of class for 30 days or more last school year, NHK said. This is a record high – and about 8% higher than a year ago.
“The results show that the pandemic caused changes in the school and family environment and had an impact on children’s behavior,” Eguchi said. “I want to promote efforts to make it easier to share ways people can find help and to make sure that children who can not attend school can continue to learn.”
It is not clear how many pandemic blockages contributed to the increase in school absences. Primary and lower secondary schools were closed in Japan from March to the end of May 2020. The Japanese school year begins in April and ends the following March.
The survey showed that about 30,000 students stayed away from school for 30 days or more due to concerns about coronavirus infection, NHK reported.
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