Michiko Ueda, 
Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

Covid-19 and suicide deaths in Japan

The speech and Q & A will be in English.

Japan is the envy of the world for its comparatively few COVID-19 deaths, but the pandemic news hides another disturbing statistic. The health ministry said last week that 20,919 people took their own lives in 2020. That's compared to 3,460 who died from coronavirus in the same period. The 3.7% increase in suicides is the first annual rise in over a decade of steady decline. The 16% rise during the second wave of COVID-19 is particularly worrying and threatens the progress achieved in suicide prevention so far. Experts interpret this latest increase as a result of coronavirus triggering a different kind of risk especially among women and children, who find it hard to cope with economic hardship and loneliness exacerbated by the pandemic.

Michiko Ueda is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University. Her research interests include suicide prevention, public health, and public policy. Prior to joining Waseda, she taught at Syracuse University and California Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in the International Journal of Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine, Plos One, and Journal of Affective Disorders, among others. Her latest publications include Economic Analysis of Suicide Prevention (2017, Springer); "Covariance in diurnal patterns of suicide-related expressions on Twitter and recorded suicide deaths" (Social Science and Medicine, 2020); and "Tweeting celebrity suicides: Users' reaction to prominent suicide deaths on Twitter and subsequent increases in actual suicides" (Social Science and Medicine, 2017). She received her Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

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