Suicides spiked in Japan after quake: Survey

Japanese policemen inspect cars at a checkpoint some twenty kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture.

TOKYO - The number of people who took their own lives in Japan drastically increased in the aftermath of last year's huge tsunami and the nuclear disaster it triggered, the government said Friday.

A more than 20 per cent rise in the amount of suicides in one month was likely attributable at least in part to the widespread anxiety Japanese society felt in the aftermath of the catastrophe, an official said.

In May last year 3,375 people killed themselves, more than 20 per cent up on the same month a year earlier.

Figures released by the Cabinet Office and the National Police Agency showed 30,651 people committed suicide in 2011, the 14th consecutive year the figure has exceeded 30,000.

"The whole of Japanese society was anxious after the disaster, and we suspect that to be a contributing factor," said an official of the Cabinet Office, adding suicides in May were particularly high among men in their 30s.

Last March's quake and tsunami, which claimed 19,000 lives and sparked the world's worst nuclear crisis in a generation, greatly hampered the Japanese economy and led to a surge in corporate bankruptcies.

Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates, according to the OECD

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