Suicide risk for Japanese students
Suicides among young Japanese citizens has risen to a 30 year high. Figures released from the Ministry of Education indicate that 250 school-age children killed themselves between 2016 and 2017.
It is the highest number since 1986 and comes despite the total number of suicides in Japan falling to 21,321 in 2017, from a record of 34,42 in 2003. Government official Noriaki Kitazaki said the cause of the spike in deaths among schoolchildren was unknown, but suggested bullying, stress and family problems played a role. The situation is being taken seriously by the authorities, which have pledged to reduce the suicide rate by 30% over the next decade, with a special focus on youth. There are plans to employ special counsellors for every school in the country to provide support to students.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people in Japan, and is prevalent across far-east Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, and South Korea, which has the highest rate in the region. Long hours and an inflexible working culture have been posited as possible causes of South Korea’s higher rate (South Koreans work on average 50% more than Germans), and this problem is also noted in Japan.
Entrepreneurial Skills Pass
A programme launched by Nestle claims to have offered 150,000 jobs or training opportunities to young Europeans in the past two years. The world’s largest food and drink corporation, which had revenues of €80 billion last year, launched Alliance for YOUth in 2014 to help promote the company and aim towards securing jobs or training for ten million young people across the world.
In a press release, the Alliance for YOUth says it has offered 150,000 jobs and traineeships to European youth in two years through its partnerships with dozens of NGOs and other institutions. Among them is JA Europe, which provides skills for entrepreneurship, and is sponsored by EY. Between 2017 and 2020, both JA Europe and the Alliance for YOUth hopes to offer jobs and training to 230,000 Europeans.
One programme which is on offer to young people across the continent is the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass. So far this has given hundreds of young people practical experience developing the skills necessary to survive and flourish in the business world, and a certificate to boost their job search afterwards.
US youth get political
Young American voters turned out in their highest numbers in a generation to vote in last week’s midterm elections. US citizens were voting for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in what was largely considered a referendum on Donald Trump.
Early estimates indicate that 31% of Americans aged 18-29 voted. By contrast, in 2014 the figure was around 21%. The Centre for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) claims this is the highest midterm turnout among young voters in at least 25 years.
Increased democratic participation could prove important for young Americans who feel neglected by the political process. The youth vote has historically been low even for major presidential elections, meaning both Democrats and Republicans have done little to promote policies for youth.
In fact, some politicians have been accused of actively trying to prevent young people from voting. Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire recently passed a new law making part time residents of the state need to register as full time residents if they wanted to vote. Many students, who live in New Hampshire during term, but are not fully registered, considered this a way of making it difficult for them to vote.
Whether the increased turnout among youth is a new trend or just a reaction to President Trump remains to be seen. The 2018 midterms saw a record 113 million people vote for a congressman or senator.