Channel 4's "Secret Life of Japan" series concludes with this moving documentary. Containing personal accounts, this film shows how the stress and strain of failure at work and the recent recession in Japan, are drivin...展开g increasing numbers of Japanese people to suicide.
In the past several years, much has been written about suicides and their connection to high unemployment rates in Japan. Dire statistics show that in the years since 1998, Japan's suicide numbers have topped the 30,000 mark annually. This has the general population, as well as health and social welfare critics around the world taking notice.
Near the base of Mount Fuji is an unhappy little spot called Aokigahara Woods, which happens to be one of the most infamous places in Japan for suicidal people to do themselves in. In recent years these woods have been known by a more tragic name, "Suicide Forest". In 2003, 78 middle-aged men apparently committed suicide here by hanging themselves from tree branches. This is an increase from the former record of 73 found on searches back in 1998. Experts cite unemployment, bankruptcies and other economic problems as major reasons for the deaths.
The total number of Japanese suicides is roughly equal to that of the entire United States, a country that has more than twice Japan's population. To put the latest data in context, in today's Japan one is roughly five times as likely to die by one's own hand as to be killed in a traffic accident.
Some cultural factors exacerbate the problem: lack of religious prohibition against suicide, reluctance to discuss mental health and stress-related problems, a literary tradition that romanticizes suicide, a view of suicide as an honorable act, a way of taking responsibility for failure, among other issues. The breakdown of family and social networks and the increasing isolation of individuals contribute to the problem.