Suicide and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan

Michiko Ueda*, Robert Nordström, Tetsuya Matsubayashi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis, but its effect on suicide deaths is little understood. Methods: We analyzed data from monthly suicide statistics between January 2017 and October 2020 and from online surveys on mental health filled out by the general population in Japan. Results: Compared to the 2017-19 period, the number of suicide deaths during the initial phase of the pandemic was lower than average but exceeded the past trend from July 2020. Female suicides, whose numbers increased by approximately 70% in October 2020 (incidence rate ratio: 1.695, 95% confidence interval: 1.558-1.843), were the main source of this increase. The largest increase was found among young women (less than 40 years of age). Our survey data indicated that the status of young women's mental health has been deteriorating in recent months and that young female workers were more likely to have experienced a job or income loss than any other group, suggesting adverse economic conditions surrounding them. Conclusions: Continuous monitoring of mental health, particularly that of the most vulnerable populations identified in this study, and appropriate suicide prevention efforts are necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept 1


  • mental health
  • morbidity and mortality
  • socioeconomics factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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