November 27, 2018The Topic: An Oft-Overlooked Cause of Teen SuicideThe News Story: Suicides Among Japanese Young People Hit 30-Year HighThe New Research: Brooding on the BalticThe News Story: Suicides Among Japanese Young People Hit 30-Year High In Japan, experts are puzzling over why suicides are at a 30-year high for children, most of whom were high-school age. The number, reports the BBC, is a tragic five times higher than it was last year. Why the alarming rise? Among those victims who left notes, reasons included “family problems, worrying about their futures and bullying.” But that accounted for less than half the number—140 did not leave a reason. The story notes that Japan had one of the world’s highest suicide rates in 2015, but since then, preventive measures have been introduced and those numbers have dropped. Still, however, suicide ranks as one of the leading causes of death for young people. Although their cultures are certainly markedly different, research out of the Baltic country of Lithuania—another nation that has seen dramatic changes in family structure in recent decades—may shed some light on this tragedy. (Source: BBC, “Suicides Among Japanese Young People Hit 30-Year High,” November 5, 2018.) The New Research: Brooding on the Baltic Suicide rates have skyrocketed in Lithuania in recent decades, with a particularly troubling surge in such rates among Lithuanian adolescents. Why this tragic epidemic among the young in this Baltic state? Recently completed by scholars at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, a new study implicates adverse trends in family life. Though their focus is on their own country, the Lithuanian researchers begin their study troubled by the global sweep of suicide. “Statistics show that suicide is currently one of the leading causes of death among young and middle-aged people,” they write, “and represents a significant public health problem worldwide.