THE NUMBER OF suicides in Japan has increased since 1998: yearly suicide rates in Shimane Prefecture were between the second highest and seventh highest in Japan from 1996 to 2003, and the rates have been approximately 30 (/100000 population) in every 6-year period since 1998,1 but there have been few reports regarding factors and background related to the increase in suicides in the prefecture. Shimane is one of the relatively unprosperous prefectures located in the western rural region of Honshu island facing the Sea of Japan on the north side. We have previously shown a significant association between suicide and unemployment rates among men in Mie Prefecture.2 The involvement of economic or financial factors has been commonly suspected in suicide cases. In the present study we investigated annual suicide rates, the ratios of job offers to applicants, the numbers of corporate bankruptcies, and tax revenues in Shimane Prefecture from 1995 to 2004 as reported in Journal of Health and Welfare Statistics, by the Shimane Prefecture Government and by the Shimane statistical information data service, and we calculated the relationships among them. Statistical analysis was performed using correlations in an Excel spreadsheet and forced entry multiple regression analysis using SPSS version 12.0J (SPSS Japan Inc., Tokyo, Japan).

During the study period the annual suicide rates changed from a minimum of 25.0 in 1995 to a maximum of 32.4 in 2002 (/100000 population). The ratios of job offers, the numbers of corporate bankruptcies, and tax revenues in the prefecture ranged from a maximum of 1.16 in 1997 to a minimum of 0.61 in 2002, from a maximum of 100 in 1998 to a minimum of 38 in 2004, and from a maximum of 775 in 1998 to a minimum of 579 in 2004 (hundred million yen), respectively. The suicide rates inversely correlated with the ratio of job offers (r = −0.913), but had a weak relation with the number of corporate bankruptcies (r = 0.284) and a weak inverse relation with tax revenue in the prefecture (r = −0.289). In multiple regression analysis of these groups, the suicide rate was clearly related to the ratio of job offers (adjusted R2 = 0.866), ratio of job offers (β = −0.808, P = 0.002), number of corporate bankruptcies (β = 0.393, P = 0.082) and tax revenue in the prefecture (β = −0.211, P = 0.348). We should pay attention not only to unemployment rates but also to the change in ratios of job offers in relation to the increase of suicide. Therefore, psychiatrists, industrial physicians, and medical staff members should take note of each patient's employment status.2

Received 18 July 2008; revised 1 October 2008; accepted 14 October 2008.


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  • 1
    Shimanekenjisatsuyoboukentoukai. Suicide prevention measures in the future in Shimane Prefecture. Jisatsuyoboutaisakukentoukaihoukokusho. 2005. (in Japanese).
  • 2
    Inoue K, Tanii H, Fukunaga T et al. Significant correlation of yearly suicide rates with the rate of unemployment among men results in a rapid increase of suicide in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 2006; 60: 781782.