This article is an extract from the lecture and consultation “Worried about kindergarten and school life? Preparation and Measures for Parents” held in 2018. Japanese original, and English and Chinese translations are available.
To avoid the worst case
According to the data published by the Japanese Cabinet Office in Year 2015, the season that had most suicides of children for the past 42 years has been right after the summer holidays. There are so many children who kill themselves on the morning they go back to school in September or on the previous day. The second most is the new school semester (term) starting in April, especially around the 6th to 8th of April, and after the Golden Week holidays, which is the beginning of May. Then, the third is the season after the New Year’s holiday in January.
Children kill themselves after the holiday.
These children had been refusing to go to school, or had been forced to go to school by parents and teachers with their life rhythm disturbed. When the long holiday is over and they are in a terrible situation, they choose to kill themselves. This is shown clearly in the statistics over the last 40 years or more.
People often say that home is responsible when a child commits suicide. But how is the child during the time s/he stays at home? In Japan, schools break up around the 20th of July. Up to the end of the “obon” holiday, which is in the middle of August, children stay at home. In that season, the number (of suicides) is low. Children can stay at home without worries during holidays. The same goes for December and until the New Year’s holiday ends (in January beginning). The suicide rate is very low then. This means that children don’t have to die if they can stay home. If they can be absent from school, they don’t have to die.
How are these children during these seasons? In the first semester, they go to school on and off. In the second semester, they start to be absent from school for a longer time and become truant. Many children are like that.
The peak of the suicides and the period that children start to be absent fall on the same period. Those who can be absent from school don’t have to kill themselves. Those who can’t be absent, who suffer from bullying at school and/or physical punishment by teachers, think they cannot live anymore but their parents force them to go to school. Thus, they have nowhere to stay and kill themselves. This is clear from the data for the last 40 years.
Truancy is on the rise since the 1990s. These data show how schools have become terrible places for children. The hardship a child is experiencing can only be seen by his/her parents. However, I would like every parent to look at the situation with a broader view and understand that this is what is actually happening.
Speaker: Ms. Ryoko Uchida, psychology counselor for children
Since 1973, Ms. Uchida has continuously held counseling sessions at multiple healthcare centers in Tokyo. In addition, since 1998, she has presided over <<Momo’s Room; Child Counseling>> and has held group consultation for truancy, delinquency and withdrawal. Ms. Uchida is also a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University, a widely known advisor for NHK Radio phone counseling on children’s psychology and a speaker at numerous seminars at child care circles, parents’ groups on truant children, and kindergartens across Japan.
(Translated by Wakana Goto)