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Japan has marginalized those considered mentally ill for a long time and has developed a stigma against it.  Previously, mentally ill Japanese prisoners were ordered to be executed.  Today, the Japanese are taught to endure their mental issues privately, rather than to seek help from doctors.

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In 2007, 33,093 people committed suicide, the second-highest number ever recorded, and it is the leading cause of death among people who are 20-49 years old and accounts for more than 30% of all deaths in Japan.  Primary causes for suicide include despair triggered by tragedy or a personal sense of failure and clinical depression caused by mental or emotional trauma or neurological factors.

Local doctors do not fully understand depression, its diagnosis and its treatment and are more likely to prescribe anxiety medications to relieve patients of their symptoms.  They most commonly prescribe anti-anxiety medications, sleep medications and antidepressants, resulting in a massive spike in the distribution of these drugs.

Although they effectively treat symptoms, addiction to these drugs has become a concern.  Withdrawal from them has been proven to be more difficult than withdrawal from heroin.  Professionals believe that long-term use of antidepressants can be much more harmful than their original condition.

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In October 2013, according to a survey conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 400,000 people used harmful substances in Japan.  In the 2013 fiscal year, 41% of total visitors at the Saitama Prefectural Mental Health Center were addicts of these drugs.

The country does not have enough treatment programs for drug addictions. According to the health ministry, they are only provided in 25 hospitals and 13 administrative entities across the nation.  In fact, 24 prefectures lack any facility providing such a program.

With a sharp increase in the number of addicts of dangerous drugs, the Japanese ministry has worked harder to set up treatment centers.  The ministry plans to increase the number of treatment centers for addicts to 69 by the end of the next fiscal year and aims to deepen cooperation between these facilities and other related entities, such as local psychiatric hospitals and groups encouraging self-reliance.

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