Suicides in Japan fall to a 15-year low

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Tokyo - Police and government officials say the number of suicides in Japan last year fell below 30 000 for the first time in 15 years, with men accounting for about two-thirds of the total.

The statistics released Thursday by the National Police Agency for 2012 say 27 766 people killed themselves. The number for men was 19 216 and for women, 8,550.

Officials say the number of suicides has been decreasing for the past few years, particularly among middle-aged and older men, who are most likely to kill themselves.

Makoto Okada, an official with the Cabinet office in charge of suicide prevention, said economic pressures are a major cause of suicide and the statistics may reflect improvements in that area. - Sapa-AP

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