Japan reports suicides faster and more accurately than anywhere else in the world. Unlike most countries, here they are compiled at the end of every month. During the Covid pandemic the numbers have told a disturbing story.

日本报告自杀率的速度比世界上任何地方都要快,也更准确。与大多数国家不同的是,日本的自杀数据是在每个月底汇编的。在新冠肺炎大流行期间,这些数字的变化令人不安。


In one month, October, the female suicide rate in Japan went up by more than 70%, compared with the same month in the previous year.

10月份,日本女性自杀率比去年同期上升了70%以上。

What is going on? And why does the Covid pandemic appear to be hitting women so much worse than men?

到底发生了什么?为什么新冠肺炎大流行对女性的影响似乎比男性严重得多?

Warning: Some may find the content of this story upsetting

警告:一些人可能会发现背后的故事令人不安



Across the table is a 19-year-old woman, with bobbed hair. She sits motionless.

我桌子对面是一位留着短发的19岁女子,她正一动不动的坐着。


Eventually she ran away from home, but it didn't end the pain and the loneliness.

最后她离家出走了,新櫈娱乐导航:但她的痛苦和孤独并没有就此终结。

Ending her life seemed the only way out.

结束自己的生命于她来说似乎是唯一的出路。

"From about this time last year I have been in and out of hospital many times," she tells me. "I tried many times to kill myself, but I couldn't succeed, so now I guess I have given up trying to die."

“大约从去年的这个时候起,我就成了医院的常客,”她告诉我,“我试过很多次自杀,但都没成功,所以现在我想我已经放弃自杀了。”

What stopped her was the intervention of the Bond Project. They found her a safe place to live, and began giving her intensive counselling.

正是因为“情感纽带计划”的干预才阻止了她自杀的想法。他们给她找了一个安全的地方居住,同时开始对她进行强化心理辅导。

Jun Tachibana is the founder of the Bond Project. She is a tough woman in her 40s with relentless optimism.

立花雅子(Jun Tachibana)是“情感纽带计划”的创始人。40多岁的她是一位坚强,有着不屈不挠的乐观精神的女性。


image caption:Ms Tachibana hopes the Bond Project provides women with the help they need

图片说明:立花雅子希望“情感纽带计划”能为女性提供她们所需要的帮助


Ms Tachibana says Covid seems to be pushing those who are already vulnerable closer to the edge. She describes some of the harrowing calls her staff have received in recent months.

立花雅子表示,新冠肺炎似乎正在把那些原本已经很脆弱的人推向死亡边缘。她描述了她的员工最近几个月接到的一些令人痛心的电话。


For those suffering physical or sexual abuse, Covid has made the situation much worse.

对于那些遭受身体或性虐待的人来说,新冠病毒则使情况变得更加恶化。

"A girl I talked to the other day said she is getting sexually harassed by her father," Ms Tachibana tells me. "But because of Covid her father is not working so much and is at home a lot, so there is no escape from him."

立花雅子告诉我说,前几天跟她聊过的一个女孩说,她受到了自己父亲的性骚扰。但因为新冠肺炎的原因,她的父亲不怎么出去工作,经常在家,这使得她自己无法逃离其父亲的魔爪。

A 'very unusual' pattern

“极其不寻常”的模式

If you look at previous times of crisis in Japan, such as the 2008 banking crisis or the collapse of Japan's stock market and property bubble in the early 1990s, the impact was largely felt by middle aged men. Large spikes were seen in male suicide rates.

如果你回顾一下日本以前的危机,比如2008年的金融危机,或者上世纪90年代初日本股市和房地产泡沫的破裂,你会发现,在这些危机中主要受影响的是中年男性。男性自杀率在这些事件中出现了大幅上升。

But Covid is different, it is affecting young people and, in particular, young women. The reasons are complex.

但新冠肺炎不同,它影响的是年轻人,尤其是年轻女性。原因很复杂。


Japan used to have the highest suicide rate in the developed world. Over the last decade it has had great success in reducing suicide rates by around a third.

日本曾经是发达国家中自杀率最高的国家。不过在过去的十年里,它已经成功地将自杀率降低了约三分之一。


"This pattern of female suicides is very, very unusual," she tells me. "I have never seen this much [of an] increase in my career as a researcher on this topic. The thing about the coronavirus pandemic is the industries hit most are industries staffed by women, such as tourism and retail and the food industries."

“这种女性自杀的模式非常非常不寻常,”她告诉我。“作为一名研究这一课题的研究人员,我的职业生涯中从未见过如此快速增长的自杀率。在冠状病毒大流行期间,最受冲击的行业大多是女性从事的行业,如旅游业、零售业和食品业。”

Japan has seen a large rise in single women living alone, many of them choosing that over marriage which entails quite traditional gender roles still. Prof Ueda says young women are also far more likely to be in so-called precarious employment.

一直以来,日本单身女性数量大幅增加,其中许多人选择单身而不是结婚主要是因为结婚后女性仍需要承担相当传统的性别角色。上田教授表示,年轻女性从事所谓不稳定工作的可能性也大得多。


image caption:Prof Ueda calls the pattern of female suicides "very unusual"

图片说明:上田教授称女性自杀的模式“非常不寻常”

"A lot of women are not married anymore," she says. "They have to support their own lives and they don't have permanent jobs. So, when something happens, of course, they are hit very, very hard. The number of job losses among non-permanent staff are just so, so large over the last eight months."

“现在很多女性选择不再结婚了,”她说。“她们必须养活自己,她们没有固定的工作。所以,当某些危机发生时,当然,她们会受到非常、非常沉重的打击。在过去8个月里,非固定员工的失业人数非常非常多。”


Newspaper headlines sounded the alarm. Some compared the total number of suicides by men and women in October (2,199) to the total number of deaths in Japan from Coronavirus up to that point (2,087).

报纸标题也敲响了警钟。一些人将10月份男性和女性自杀的总人数(2199人)与当时日本因冠状病毒死亡的总人数(2087人)进行了比较。

Something particularly strange was happening.

特别离奇的事情发生了。

On 27 September last year, a very famous and popular actress named Yuko Takeuchi was found dead at her home. It was later reported that she had taken her own life.

去年9月27日,一位非常著名和受欢迎的日本女演员竹内侑子被发现死于家中。后来有报道称其死因是自杀。


image caption:Japanese actress Yuko Takeuchi was found dead at her own home at 40

图片说明: 年仅40岁的日本女演员竹内侑子被发现死于自己家中

Yasuyuki Shimizu is a former journalist who now runs a non-profit organisation (NPO) dedicated to combatting Japan's suicide problem.

清水保之以前是一名记者,现在经营着一家致力于解决日本自杀问题的非营利组织。

"From the day the news of a celebrity suicide is reported, the number of suicides increases and stays that way for about 10 days," he says.

他说:“从名人自杀的新闻被报道的那一天起,日本自杀的人数就进一步上升了,这种上升趋势持续了10天左右。”


If you look at the data for suicides by women around the same age as Yuko Takeuchi, the statistics are even more stark.

如果你关注与竹内侑子年龄相仿的女性自杀的数据,你会发现数据更加明显。



The celebrity phenomenon

名人效应


One of the NPO's researchers is Mai Suganuma. She is herself a victim of suicide. When she was a teenager, her father took his own life. Now she helps to support the families of others who have killed themselves.

杉沼麦是NPO的研究人员之一。她自己就是自杀的受害者。在她十几岁的时候,她的父亲自杀了。而现在她致力于帮助那些家庭成员自杀的家庭走出伤痛。

And just as Covid is leaving relatives unable to grieve for those who have succumbed to the virus, so it is making life for the families of suicide victims much more difficult.

正如新冠肺炎让患者的亲属无法哀悼那些死于病毒的人一样,它也让自杀者的家庭生活更加困难。

"When I talk to the family members, their feeling of not being able to save the loved one is very strong, which often results in them blaming themselves." Mai Suganuma tells me. "I too blamed myself for not being able to save my father.

“当我和受害者家属交谈时,他们那种无法挽救所爱的人的绝望感非常强烈,这往往让他们非常地自责。” 杉沼麦告诉我。“我也曾责怪自己没能救下我的父亲。”

"Now they are being told they must stay at home. I worry the feelings of guilt will grow stronger. Japanese people don't talk about death to begin with. We do not have a culture to talk about the suicides."

“现在他们被告知必须呆在家里。我担心待在家里会让他们内疚的感觉变得越来越强烈。日本人不热衷于谈论死亡。我们没有谈论自杀的文化。”

Japan is now in a so-called third wave of Covid infections, and the government has ordered a second state of emergency. It is likely to be extended well into February. More restaurants and hotels and bars are closing their doors. More people are losing their jobs.

日本现在正处于所谓的第三波新冠病毒疫情中,政府已经下令全国第二次进入紧急状态。这种状态很可能会延长到2月份。越来越多的餐馆、酒店和酒吧关门歇业了。越来越多的人也因此失去了工作。


image caption: The third wave of the virus has caused Japan's streets to once again fall empty

图片说明:第三波病毒使日本的街道再次空空如也