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2009年5月29日 (金)

自殺者3万人―安全網を張り直さねば

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 28(IHT/Asahi: May 29,2009)
EDITORIAL: The high suicide rate
自殺者3万人―安全網を張り直さねば

The number of people who committed suicide in Japan in 2008 surpassed 30,000 for the 11th consecutive year. In the first four months of this year, more than 11,000 people killed themselves.
 昨年、自殺者がまた3万人を超えた。98年以来、11年連続である。今年も4月までに1万1千人を超えた。

In a high-profile case in April, actress Yukiko Shimizu, who had been caring for her dementia-stricken mother, took her own life. It is too painful to think she may have fallen into despair while devoting herself to caring for her mother at the expense of giving up her career. The tragedy was a grim reminder of the weakness of a social safety net.
 4月には、認知症の母を介護していた女優の清水由貴子さんが死を選んだ。仕事をやめ献身的に家族を支えていて、追いつめられたのだとしたら、あまりに切ない。もっと社会的な支援はできなかったのだろうか。命をささえる安全網の弱さを改めて痛感させる出来事だった。

The death toll from suicides topped 30,000 for the first time in 1998. Following the collapse of Yamaichi Securities Co. and Hokkaido Takushoku Bank in 1997, the 1998 figure surged by 8,000 amid growing gloom over the economic downturn. Our fear is that the current recession will trigger another spike.
 3万人台に突入した98年は、山一証券、北海道拓殖銀行が経営破綻(はたん)した翌年だ。底なしの不況感が広がるなか、自殺者が前年より8千人増えた。今回の世界同時不況が、再び自殺者急増の引き金にならないか心配だ。

In terms of the number of suicides per 100,000 people, Japan ranks second to Russia among the Group of Eight powers. Japan's rate is twice and three times higher than for the United States and Britain, respectively.
 10万人あたりの自殺者数では、日本はG8の中でロシアに次いで2番目だ。米国の2倍、英国の3倍である。

The suicide toll remained under 20,000 during the period of high economic growth and then stayed below 30,000 for many years. Why have suicides increased so much in the past decade? It behooves us to pay more attention to social factors behind the trend, instead of attributing suicides to the failure of individuals to cope with life's burdens.
 長く2万人台で、その前の高度成長期は1万人台にとどまっていた自殺者が、なぜこうも増えたのか。個人の生きる力の問題よりも、社会的な背景に目を向けざるをえない。

For a decade or so after the collapse of the late 1980s asset-inflated economy, competition in society intensified amid a clamor of calls for structural reform. Social security spending was curbed and the importance of self-responsibility was emphasized.
 バブル崩壊後の十数年、「構造改革」の掛け声のもとに競争が激化した。社会保障は抑えられ、自己責任を強調する風潮が強まった。

In South Korea, where former President Roh Moo-hyun recently committed suicide, the national suicide tally started rising sharply at the end of the 1990s following the Asian financial crisis. It seems that radical social changes have triggered despair among a growing number of people in South Korea. The same holds true in Japan.
 前大統領が自殺した韓国でも、通貨危機後の90年代末から急に自殺が増えた。急激な社会変化で追いつめられる人が増える構造は、日本と共通しているのではないか。

The situation increasingly is a cause of great concern. The basic suicide prevention law, enacted in 2006, stipulates that the central and local governments, along with employers, have a responsibility to support efforts to reverse the trend by working closely. But even suicide hotlines across the nation face an acute shortage of counselors.
 事態は深刻さを増している。
 06年に自殺対策基本法ができ、政府、自治体、事業主の責務と連携をうたった。ところが各地のいのちの電話でさえ、相談員が減って悲鳴を上げているのが実態だ。

Formerly, efforts to prevent suicide focused mainly on treatments of depression. But suicides are triggered usually by a mix of factors. Effective suicide prevention requires careful analysis of factors and a broad range of steps.
 かつてはうつ病対策が中心だったが、自殺の原因は複合的である。丁寧な分析と幅広い対策が必要だ。

The number of suicides among people in their 30s hit a new high last year, according to the National Police Agency (NPA). Job woes for the "lost generation" appear to be behind the surge. Among reasons for suicides, cases of "multiple debts" have decreased while those of "loss of jobs" and "failure to find a job" have increased. That may suggest that the government's steps to deal with consumer debt problems, such as legal changes to eliminate the so-called "gray zone" exorbitant interest rates, are starting to bear fruit. But policy efforts to assure job security and help the needy are insufficient.
 警察庁によると、昨年は30代の自殺が過去最多だった。「失われた世代」の雇用問題が背景にあるとみられる。
 原因では「多重債務」が減り、「失業」「就職失敗」が増えた。グレーゾーン金利の撤廃などの政策が効き始めた一方で、雇用や生活の支援が追いついていないとみることができそうだ。

The government should consider adopting measures to provide more opportunities for unemployed people to receive job training while providing sufficient livelihood support as part of its suicide prevention drive.
 生活を保障しながら職業訓練を受ける機会を増やす、といった政策を自殺対策の面からも考えねばなるまい。

We hope the NPA will release more detailed data based on regions. For example, are suicide rates in certain regions high among young people or women? What about differences among job categories? Data that answer such questions are crucial for developing effective measures carefully tailored to the special circumstances in specific regions.
 警察庁にはもっと詳しい地域別のデータを公表してほしい。若い世代が多いのか、女性が多いのか、どんな職種が多いのか。地域の特徴に合わせた、きめ細かな対策が必要だからだ。

Last year, Tokyo's Suginami Ward designated May and September as suicide prevention months. To prevent suicide among younger generations, the municipal government organizes awareness campaigns on the streets that involve the families of suicide victims. It also holds classes at schools on the importance of life and organizes lectures at events like music festivals.
 東京都杉並区は昨年から5、9月を自殺予防月間に定めた。若い世代の自殺を防ごうと、遺族も加わって街頭宣伝したり、学校で命の授業をしたり、音楽祭で予防の話をしたりしている。

The only way to curtail the suicide rate is through steady efforts to raise the hopes of those who are experiencing hardship.
 生きる希望をつなぐための地道な努力を積み重ねていくしかない。

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