Sunshine and Suicides in Japan: revisiting the relevance of economic determinants of suicide

Schaede, Ulrike GND

This paper investigates how exposure to sunshine affects the suicide rate in Japan, especially in relation to economic variables. Using prefecturebased data on socioeconomic variables for the years 1993–2009, the paper confirms existing research in finding a significant correlation between suicides and unemployment, for both men and women. The interaction between sunshine and unemployment is also significant, and further analysis reveals that unemployment is not an important factor for suicide in high-sunshine prefectures, whereas in low-sunshine areas the effect of unemployment on the suicide rate rises. The divorce rate is highly significant and positive for men, but significant and negative for women, suggesting that many Japanese women consider divorce liberating. Current suicide research in Japan with its strong emphasis on economic variables may benefit from an inclusion of measures of general well-being.