Characteristics of Disaster-Related Suicide in Fukushima Prefecture after the Nuclear Accident

Yoshitake Takebayashi, Hiroshi Hoshino, Yasuto Kunii, Shin Ichi Niwa, Masaharu Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Suicide is a major concern after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear accident in Fukushima. Aims: This study delineates characteristics of the disaster-related suicides in Fukushima. Method: Data provided by the Fukushima Prefectural Police and data published by the Fukushima or Japanese Government were analyzed. Numbers of disaster-related suicides and evacuees were compared among the three prefectures affected. Age, sex, occupation, and means for disaster-related suicides in Fukushima were compared with overall suicides in Fukushima or Japan. History of medical treatment, changes in job and family structure after the disaster, and signs of contemplation were examined within the disaster-related suicides of Fukushima. Results: While other prefectures have experienced a drop in disaster-related suicides, Fukushima has not. Age-standardized disaster-related suicide rates were remarkably higher in men than in women. Moreover, disaster-related suicide rates in Fukushima were higher in women in their 50s and 80s as compared with overall suicide rates in Fukushima or Japan. Limitations: No detailed comparisons were made between disaster-related and non-disaster-related suicides. Conclusion: Disaster-related suicide rates were higher in men than in women. Also, it was found that the disaster-related suicide rates of elderly women were higher compared with overall suicide rates in Japan and Fukushima. In addition, many who died by suicide showed signs of contemplation before the attempt and had started psychiatric treatment. Improvement of suicide risk assessment skills for mental health professionals and gatekeeper training among residents will be essential to prevent disaster-related suicides.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCrisis
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • disaster-related suicide
  • Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • nuclear accident
  • the Great East Japan Earthquake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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