National strategy for suicide prevention in Japan: Impact of a national fund on progress of developing systems for suicide prevention and implementing initiatives among local authorities

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Abstract

Aim:

In Japan, the Cabinet Office released the ‘General Principles of Suicide Prevention Policy’ in 2007 and suggested nine initiatives. In 2009, a national fund was launched to help prefectures (the administrative divisions of Japan) and local authorities implement five categories of suicide-prevention programs. This paper examines the impact of the national fund on the establishment of the systems for suicide prevention and the implementation of these initiatives among local authorities.

Methods:

The present study included 1385 local authorities (79.5%) from all 47 prefectures that responded to the cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

Results:

Improved suicide-prevention systems and the implementation of nine initiatives in April 2013 were observed among 265 local authorities (19.1%) that implemented ‘Training of community service providers’ and ‘Public awareness campaigns’; 178 local authorities (12.9%) that implemented ‘Face-to-face counseling’, ‘Training of community service providers’ and ‘Public awareness campaigns’; and 324 local authorities (23.4%) that implemented ‘Trauma-informed policies and practices’. There was no significant difference in suicide-prevention systems and the implementation of nine initiatives between 203 local authorities (14.7%) that implemented only ‘Public awareness campaigns’ and 231 local authorities (16.7%) that did not implement any suicide-prevention programs.

Conclusion:

The results of our study suggest that the national fund promoted the establishment of community systems for suicide prevention and helped implement initiatives among local authorities. The national suicide-prevention strategy in Japan should explore a standard package of programs to guide community suicide-prevention efforts with a sustained workforce among local authorities.

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