This article is from the American misconceptions about Japan FAQ, by Tanaka Tomoyuki email@example.com with numerous contributions by
19 MYTH: Japanese are suicidal.
THE TRUTH: suicide rate in Japan is not unusually high compared to
the following are some rough figures intended to show the
relative ranking, which has changed little during the last 30
years. (source: The Encyclopedia Americana (1992), etc)
(per 100,000 people)
Austria, Sweden, Germany, Denmark 20
France, Belgium, Japan 15
New Zealand, USA, UK 10
Norway, Holland, Italy 5--8
this shows that "suicide is unusually common in Japan" is
another myth created by the US media: over-emphasis of
seppuku (hara-kiri) and kamikaze (or "kamakazi") pilots; and
suicides of novelists like Mishima, Kawabata, etc.
MYTH: Japanese youth are suicidal.
--- Edwin O. Reischauer. The Japanese Today. (1995) (Page 194)
"The relatively high suicide rates for youth may be in part
attributable to the `examination hell,' [...]"
--- "Japan's demanding education system causes teen suicides"
The Washington Post (March 9, 1990)
--- "Teen-age suicides shed light on brutal bullying in Japan"
LA Times (Dec 23, 1994)
--- etc, etc, ... ad nauseam.
for 15-24 year olds, US suicide rate is about twice that of
for 15-24 year olds, suicide rate in Japan is
--- lower than those of the USA, Australia, Canada, Denmark,
France, Germany, Poland, Sweden; and
--- higher than those of Italy, Netherlands, the UK.
source: "Statistical Abstracts of the United States: 1994"
Table No. 1360, which notes its source as WHO (1989-1991).
according to Statistical Abstracts (and WHO), suicide rate
among youth has been rising in the USA and falling in Japan
since the late 1960s. it has been higher in the USA than in
Japan since 1981 or so.