Autor: ---- Fuente: SignOnSanDiego.com

TOKYO – The number of Japanese who committed suicide rose to a record high last year, exceeding 32,000 for the first time, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Suicide totals in Japan have hovered near highs in recent years while the world's second-biggest economy struggled through a prolonged slump.

But while the economy has begun to show signs of recovery, the figures for suicides – compiled as part of a Health Ministry population survey – remained grim.

In 2003, the number of Japanese who took their lives rose to 32,082, exceeding the previous record of 31,755 in 1998, ministry data showed.

A Health Ministry official declined to comment on factors for the rise in suicides, which had stood at 29,949 in 2002.

No religious prohibition exists against suicide in Japan and it was long seen as a way to escape failure or save loved ones from embarrassment.

The number of Japanese suicides remains roughly equal to that of the United States, which has twice Japan's population.

A government estimate put Japan's population at around 126 million in October 2003.
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