Suicide in the US and Japan

Suicide referrers to the taking away of an individual’s life by either himself or herself. Just like murder and manslaughter, which refer to intentional and unintentional killing respectively, suicide is a kind of intentional killing committed to oneself. In the United States of America and Japan, suicide is regarded as a criminal offense. However, since a person who commits suicide cannot face charges in a court of law by virtue of death, it becomes problematic in the execution of the offense within the statutes providing for such an offense. Many states, including the US and Japan, have therefore introduced “attempted suicide” as a crime. Any person, therefore, who with the intention of killing himself through suicide but fails to do so, however, is charged with attempted suicide. The choice of the comparison between the United States of America Japan is because the two countries have the highest numbers of suicide cases in the world. South Korea leads in suicide cases but amongst the developed countries, the United States America and Japan rank high. In America for example, the whites lead in the suicides cases, followed by the American Indians and the blacks coming last on that list. In Japan, close to seventy people lose their lives every day to suicide. During last year, for example, the estimation of the number of individuals who committed suicide in Japan were two thousand five hundred. The causes of suicide in this two countries include frustrations, drug abuse, depression, and others still because of old age. The frustrations and depressions come as a result of economic difficulties and ill health.

The comparison of the two countries is, therefore, important as they serve as the major developed countries in the world, and so it is quite ironical why an individual would commit suicide in those states. In America for example, suicide ranks amongst the top ten causes of the total deaths in America. Suicide as the social problem is, therefore, critical in the two countries as we try to uncover what’s really pushing people to commit suicide in developing countries despite the life expectancy rate being high. Suicide is linked depressions and frustrations and is therefore presumed to be a problem of the developing countries. The topic, however, espouses that, despite the great economic lives, by these countries, suicide cases are still on the increase. Some of the means used in the actualizing suicide in the two states include shooting oneself, jumping from a story building, taking poison amongst many others. What seems so peculiar however is the fact that suicide is a disease of the mind. The conception of suicide starts in the mind and becomes so persistent that it cannot be erased even through counseling or punitive legal remedies like prosecutions and convictions. The people who conceive suicide at some point in their lives, eventually commit suicide at some point.

The necessity of the topic and the comparison between the two countries is to discover the prevailing rates of suicide amongst the Americans and Japanese and what these rates actually imply towards the economic, social and other socio-cultural factors in the US. Indeed, suicide takes away the manpower required to drive a country forward concerning development. It also affects the families negatively as it is an embarrassing situation for the families of the diseased something that later affects the social interaction. At times, those coming suicide may choose to disclose the reasons or not. In any event of the two, the family members, the workmates, the classmates or college mates will always wonder why innocent soul was taken away. The scenario gives a lot of stigma amongst the remaining population. The study of the causes of suicide amongst the two countries also helps us prevent future suicide cases as suicide. Suicide has no remedy, only prevention. The paper will therefore critically compare the suicide situations in America and Japan with a view of establishing the rates, causes and efforts for prevention of the problem.

The magnitude of suicide cases in America

Suicide as a social problem in America is so important for study because it is the tenth cause of the total death population in America. The estimation of the rates of deaths in America as per the Center for Disease control in America indicates that the rate at which suicide cases unfold in America is higher than even the car accidents. For example, in the year 2010 alone, a total of thirty-eight thousand three hundred and sixty-four people lost their life in this ordeal. In America, suicide is very prevalent amongst the male than the female. Adults also suffer more than the youth. The white Americans also commit suicide more than the Black Americans and the American Indians. In America however, the suicide cases are majorly linked to hard economic spells and the high rates of unemployment.

The most hard hit age bracket of the American population towards suicide are those aged between forty-five and fifty-four years. According to the world health organization report made in two thousand and five, the male Americans between the age of forty-five and fifty-four constituted the highest number of suicide cases with a total figure of five thousand two hundred and forty-seven persons. The females in the same age bracket came second after the men with a total of one thousand seven hundred and nineteen way too far below the men. From the two examples, it is evident that females are strong and very resistant to suicide than their male counterparts. The study indicates that the suicide rates in America increase with the increase in ages up to the age of fifty-four and starts reducing after that age. It, however, picks up again at the age of seventy-five years. The total number of suicide cases cumulatively for both male and females amongst all people in two thousand and five, however, amounted to a tune of thirty-two thousand five hundred and thirty-three. Ranking key in this causes is the murder-suicide. The murder-suicide particularly occurs amongst militias and members of the army where an individual kills other people before eventually shooting himself to death. Such kind of attacks was witnessed at Columbine high school, Virginia Tech and the crashing of the Austin plane in the year 2010. Suicide in America is also prevalent amongst the military officers as compared to civilians. From the inception of the Iraq war, for example, a lot of suicide cases have been reported which are way above the number of soldiers who die in the real war. The scenario is the same in the Afghanistan war. One hundred and eighty-five US Army soldiers on duty, for example, committed suicide in the year 2012.

The gays and the transgender are also at a high risk of committing suicide in America due to the politicization of their situation. The magnification of the vulnerabilities of these groups through political debates and discussions makes them feel depressed and rejected. This is one way in with politics coupled with other social factors affects the prevailing rate of suicide in America. Such kind of the politicization of the same sex marriages has been termed by some celebrities in the US as bullying upon these social groups that should not occur at all costs. Lady Gaga a renowned Rnb artist in America, for example, has urged the American president Barrack Obama to stop indulging in hate messages against the LBGT group. The reason for such sentiments is the fact that continued bullying of these groups affects their self-esteem leading to depression and eventually to committing suicide. The group has therefore been quite vulnerable to suicide more so considering the issues of globalization. The world has become a global village, and the gays in the United States of America can communicate and find out then treatment of the LBGT group members in other countries. The legalization of same-sex marriages in other countries and a denial of the same in the United States of America makes the members of this social group feel discriminated and less human as compared to those who do not belong to this group.

Apart from the above-discussed causes of suicide in America, there are other big causes of suicide. These factors include the high level of prolonged illnesses. When people suffer too many diseases, they are prone to requesting their doctor to assist them to conduct Euthanasia. Euthanasia is a kind of condition whereby a patient requires the doctor to inject him or her to death. It is a decision taking voluntarily by a patient either due to severe pains or due to high hospital bills that are far beyond the reach of the patient. Euthanasia is closely associated with suicide as both involve a personal decision to take away one’s life. Drug addicts in America are also in a very vulnerable situation of taking away their lives in America because of the severe effects of these drugs. Drug addicts experience a lot of hallucinations that may influence them in committing suicide. Other drug addicts also choose to commit suicide without their conscience because they are taking a decision out of the influence of the drugs. These drugs cause mental illnesses that eventually cause the drug addicts to contemplate suicide.

The magnitude of suicide cases in Japan

Generally speaking all the suicide cases in Japan just like in the United States of America are caused by the mental illnesses arising from various factors. Mental illnesses can be due to a prolonged medical condition, depression resulting from unemployment and tough economic times. These factors are particularly attributable to most men than women. The situation is so because the family unit in Japan is patriarchal in nature. The men are in charge of most social events in the society. They are responsible for virtually most of the tough decision-making situations in the society. At home, the Japanese men are in charge of the provision of all the family needs. The stress associated with these responsibilities coupled with tough economic times make men contemplate suicide. The scenario explains why the suicide rate among men is higher than that of females in Japan making it exactly the same situation with the United States of America.

Women are less vulnerable to suicide in Japan just like in the United States of America because of the fewer responsibilities conferred upon them by the patriarchal nature of the Japanese society. The highest rate of suicide amongst women in Japan affects most the housewives. The fact arises by the low incomes of the families and lack of protection of their families by the husband. Women’s decision to commit suicide, therefore, comes out of frustrations caused by the man. The second aspect that leads to the high suicide rates in Japan making is the top developed country regarding suicide cases is because of unemployment. The people who first feel the pinch of unemployment are the men who then transfer the stress to their spouses. The depression that then arise due to a lot of financial commitments, therefore, leads to people committing suicide. In Japan, an average of ninety people dies in a day. According to the national police Agency, about thirty thousand persons. Lost their lives in suicide during the year 2009. This is a very high rate and almost equal to the annual rate witnessed by the United States of America. Again, this is so alarming especially to a developed country of the status of Japan.

Out of the entire population of the people who committed suicide in 2009, about fifteen thousand out of the thirty thousand cases were as a result of illnesses. Health-related factors, therefore, rank high amongst the causes of Suicide in Japan. About ten thousand of these problems are a result of the mental illnesses. The second aspect is the unemployment arising out of recessions in Japan.
These factors put together, the suicide rate in Japan currently is twice as much as in the United States of America. Regarding the effects on females, the Japanese women are three times more likely to commit suicide as compared to women in the United States of America. The men ration is 2:1 in a comparison between Japan and America. Just like in the United States of America however, the suicide through the use of a firearm like a gun range highest on then methods of committing suicide. Hanging comes second and is most prevalent amongst men. The scenario is true of both countries.

Suicide prevention in the United States of America and Japan

Suicide occurs once and has no remedy. It is, therefore, important that prevention as a means of reducing the prevalence of the ordeal is sought. However, since suicide affects majorly the mind, it takes much of a psychological solution to solve the problem. The idea is to try and touch the affected person in a more positive way, and for the individual to create hope from life again. This is in consideration of the hopeless nature of the victims. If the mental illness is as a result of drug abuse, for example, rehabilitation of the person is required for him or her to stop using the drugs and eventually avoiding any suicide attempts. A more sophisticated socioeconomic approach is however required to outdo completely the problem. All the issues associated with suicide in one way or the other arise because of a social or economic problem warranting a socio-economic solution.

One of the key ways of preventing suicide is keenly listening to the affected persons as to why they chose to take the decision. After the understanding of the social factors and gathering of enough data, it then becomes easy to fight suicide. Some of the tools introduced in both Japan and the United States of America to prevent suicide, range from, legislations, policies and the efforts of the Non-governmental organizations. The data collected as a result of speaking to the people concerned is what assist America and Japan to come up with policies that are effective in handling the problem.

States in an attempt to curb suicide, therefore, have come up with very strict legislations as a means of preventing suicide. Is it, however, effective? The United States of America right from the 1030’s has engaged in passing Acts of curtailing suicide. These legislations have however become difficult to enforce. One of the challenges of implementing this law is the fact that the perpetrator cannot be procured to court as a result of the death. Assisting an individual in committing suicide is, however, punishable in the United America States. Some of the cases of assisted suicide arise out of Euthanasia, which is administered by doctors. This is not, however, to say that Euthanasia is restricted in America. Euthanasia is allowed under very minimal circumstances and where the patient is in extremely painful condition which will eventually lead to his death. Assisted suicide is, therefore, enforceable in America. So the criminal may be dead by whoever assisted is held responsible. The situation is also the same in Japan. Attempted suicide, as opposed to suicide, however, is enforceable in both Japan and America. Currently, the United States of America has no legislation to govern suicide but some people, however, consider it as an aspect of the common law. In Japan, suicide is seen as illegal but not an act punishable under the law because of enforcement challenges just like the situation in the United States of America. Legislation are not a proper tool for curbing or preventing suicide.

The government of the United States of America and Japan, have also come up with initiatives to partner with Non-governmental organizations and unite with families, prominent personalities and the whole community at large in the eradication of the vice. One such example is the support of churches. In America and Japan, suicide is considered as a sin in all religions. Any person who attempts to indulge in such behavior, therefore, faces church sanctions. Just like the law, therefore, a person contemplating suicide should pray so hard that it becomes successful otherwise if he fails to take away his life, it is deemed attempted suicide. Attempted suicide, therefore, attracts both legal as well as religious sanctions. One of the ways in which the government of the United States of America partners with the NGOs is through the establishment of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is a governmental one but uses non-governmental organizations in carrying out the mandate. In Japan, the police control Agency works in connection with the community as well as the Non-governmental organizations to talk to the people about avoiding drugs and how to avoid suicide. The agency also through Nongovernmental organizations, educate the people on the legal as well as social effects of attempted suicide on an individual and committing suicide, on the family.

One way in which the community also engages in suicide prevention is through the traditional use sanctions. The effects at most timers are felt by the family of the deceased. Such a family loses respect in society. An individual in consideration of these factors, therefore, would not attempt to engage in the commission of the crime of suicide. Celebrities like Lady Gaga have been at the forefront in the fight against suicide in America. Lady Gaga is on record for having confronted President Barrack Obama over his remarks likely to discriminate upon the members of the LBGT group and thus occasioning suicide.

From the above analysis and comparison, it is estimated that in the coming ten years, the suicidal rate in Japan will reduce as compared to the United States of America. However, Japan is projected to remain the leading in the suicidal cases because of the high unemployment rates and recessions leading to unemployment.


In conclusion, having looked at the prevalent rates and the causes of suicide in both the United States of America and Japan, Japan leads in suicide rates. The lesson an individual is most likely to learn from the rates of the two countries is that, with the highest rate of unemployment, the rate of suicide increases as it causes a lot of social and economic distress. Japan, however, has a high prevalence rate of suicide cases as compared to the United States. The suicide prevention is however sophisticated in Japan as compared to the to the United States of America, and it is projected that in the next 1o years, the rate will reduce tremendously in Japan as compared to the United States of America. Japan, however, is expected to lead still amongst the developed countries concerning the suicidal cases.