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疫情加剧生活及文化压力,日本女性自杀率飙升

As Pandemic Took Hold, Suicide Rose Among Japanese Women
疫情加剧生活及文化压力,日本女性自杀率飙升

TOKYO — Not long after Japan ramped up its fight against the coronavirus last spring, Nazuna Hashimoto started suffering panic attacks. The gym in Osaka where she worked as a personal trainer suspended operations, and her friends were staying home at the recommendation of the government.

东京——去年春天日本加大抗击新冠病毒力度后不久,桥本那津奈(Nazuna Hashimoto,音)就开始遭受恐慌症的折磨。她在大阪担任私人教练的健身房暂停营业,她的朋友们都在政府建议下留在家中。

Afraid to be alone, she would call her boyfriend of just a few months and ask him to come over. Even then, she was sometimes unable to stop crying. Her depression, which had been diagnosed earlier in the year, spiraled. “The world I was living in was already small,” she said. “But I felt it become smaller.”

因为害怕独处,她会打电话给刚交往几个月的男友,请他过来。即使在那时,她有时也无法停止哭泣。她去年年初被确诊患有抑郁症,病情不断恶化。“我生活的世界本来就很小,”她说。“但我觉得它变得更小了。”
 

“我生活的世界本来就很小,”日本大阪的桥本那津奈在谈到她去年与抑郁症的斗争时说。“但我觉得它变得更小了。”

By July, Ms. Hashimoto could see no way out, and she tried to kill herself. Her boyfriend found her, called an ambulance and saved her life. She is speaking out publicly about her experience now because she wants to remove the stigma associated with talking about mental health in Japan.

到了7月,桥本那津奈看不到出路,试图自杀,男友发现后叫来救护车救了她的命。她现在公开讲述自己的经历,是想要消除在日本谈论心理健康的耻辱感。

While the pandemic has been difficult for many in Japan, the pressures have been compounded for women. As in many countries, more women have lost their jobs. In Tokyo, the country’s largest metropolis, about one in five women live alone, and the exhortations to stay home and avoid visiting family have exacerbated feelings of isolation. Other women have struggled with the deep disparities in the division of housework and child care during the work-from-home era, or suffered from a rise in domestic violence and sexual assault.

虽然这场大流行病给许多日本人带来了困难,但对女性来说压力尤为严重。和许多国家一样,更多的女性失去了工作。在日本最大的都市东京,约有五分之一的女性独自生活,留在家中、避免探望家人的规劝加剧了她们的孤独感。在这个居家办公的时代,还有一些女性对家务和育儿分工的严重不平等感到苦恼,或者遭遇了更多的家庭暴力和性侵犯。

The rising psychological and physical toll of the pandemic has been accompanied by a worrisome spike in suicide among women. In Japan, 6,976 women took their lives last year, nearly 15 percent more than in 2019. It was the first year-over-year increase in more than a decade.

伴随着大流行造成的心理和身体伤害的上升,女性的自杀率也令人担忧地飙升。在日本,去年有6976名女性自杀,比2019年增加了近15%。这是十多年来首次出现同比增长。

Each suicide — and suicide attempt — represents an individual tragedy rooted in a complex constellation of reasons. But the increase among women, which extended across seven straight months last year, has concerned government officials and mental health experts who have worked to reduce what had been among the highest rates of suicide in the world. (While more men than women committed suicide last year, fewer men did so than in 2019. Overall, suicides increased by slightly less than 4 percent.)

每一次自杀以及自杀未遂都代表着一个植根于种种复杂原因的个体悲剧。但是,去年女性自杀率连续七个月上升,引起了政府官员和心理健康专家的关注,他们一直在努力降低日本的自杀率,而该国曾是世界上自杀率最高的国家之一。(去年自杀的男性多于女性,但人数相较于2019有所下降。总体自杀人数增幅略低于4%。)

The situation has reinforced longstanding challenges for Japan. Talking about mental health issues, or seeking help, is still difficult in a society that emphasizes stoicism.

这种情况加剧了日本长期面临的挑战。在一个强调隐忍的社会中,谈论心理健康问题或者寻求帮助仍然是很困难的。

The pandemic has also amplified the stresses in a culture that is grounded in social cohesion and relies on peer pressure to drive compliance with government requests to wear masks and practice good hygiene. Women, who are often designated as primary caregivers, at times fear public humiliation if they somehow fail to uphold these measures or get infected with the coronavirus.

同时大流行也加剧了文化压力,这种文化以社会凝聚力为基础,依赖同侪压力,促使人们遵守政府的要求,戴上口罩并保持良好卫生习惯。女性通常被指定为主要照顾者,如果未能坚持这些措施或感染了新冠病毒,她们有时会担心受到公开羞辱。

“Women bear the burden of doing virus prevention,” said Yuki Nishimura, a director of the Japanese Association of Mental Health Services. “Women have to look after their families’ health, and they have to look after cleanliness and can get looked down upon if they are not doing it right.”

“女性承担着预防病毒的责任,”日本心理健康服务协会(Japanese Association of Mental Health Services)理事西村由纪(Yuki Nishimura)说。“女性必须照顾家人的健康,她们必须注意卫生,如果做得不好,她们可能会被人看不起。”

In one widely publicized account, a 30-something woman who had been recuperating from the coronavirus at home committed suicide. The Japanese media seized on her note expressing anguish over the possibility that she had infected others and caused them trouble, while experts questioned whether shame may have driven her to despair.

在一篇广为报道的报道中,一名30多岁的女性在家中接受新冠病毒治疗期间自杀身亡。日本媒体报道了她的遗书,她在其中表示,可能将病毒感染给他人并给他们带来麻烦,这令她感到痛苦。专家们在讨论,是不是羞耻感令她陷入绝望。

“Unfortunately the current tendency is to blame the victim,” said Michiko Ueda, an associate professor of political science at Waseda University in Tokyo who has researched suicide. Dr. Ueda found in surveys last year that 40 percent of respondents worried about social pressure if they contracted the virus.

“不幸的是,目前的趋势是谴责受害者,”东京早稻田大学(Waseda University)研究自杀问题的政治学副教授上田路子(Michiko Ueda)说。上田在去年的调查中发现,40%的受访者担心感染病毒会带来社会压力。

“We don’t basically support you if you are not ‘one of us,’” said Dr. Ueda. “And if you have mental health issues you are not one of us.”

“如果你不是‘我们当中的一员’,我们基本上不会支持你,”上田路子说。“如果你有心理健康问题,你就不是我们当中的一员。”

Experts have also worried that a succession of Japanese film and television stars who took their own lives last year may have spurred a string of copycat suicides. After Yuko Takeuchi, a popular, award-winning actress, took her life in late September, the number of women committing suicide in the following month jumped by close to 90 percent compared to the previous year.

专家们还担心,去年一连串的日本影视明星自杀事件可能会引发模仿自杀事件。9月下旬,广受欢迎的获奖女星竹内结子(Yuko Takeuchi)自杀身亡后一个月内,自杀的女性数量与去年相比猛增近90%。

Shortly after Ms. Takeuchi’s death, Nao, 30, started writing a blog to chronicle her lifelong battles with depression and eating disorders. She wrote candidly about her suicide attempt three years earlier.

竹内结子去世后不久,30岁的奈绪(Nao,音)开始写博客,记录自己一直以来同抑郁症和饮食失调的斗争。她坦率地写下了自己三年前自杀未遂的经历。

Such openness about mental health struggles is still relatively rare in Japan. The celebrity suicides prompted Nao, whose family name has been withheld at her request to protect her privacy, to reflect on how she might have reacted if she had hit her emotional nadir during the pandemic.

在日本,这种对心理健康问题的开放态度仍然相对罕见。这些名人自杀事件促使奈绪开始思考,如果她的情绪在疫情期间跌到谷底,她可能会做出怎样的反应。为保护隐私,她不愿公开自己的姓氏。

“When you’re at home alone, you feel very isolated from society and that feeling is really painful,” she said. “Just imagining if I was in that situation right now, I think the suicide attempt would have happened a lot earlier, and probably I think I would have succeeded.”

“一个人在家的时候,你会感到与社会隔绝,这种感觉真的很痛苦,”她说。“想象一下,如果我现在处在那种情况下,我的自杀企图可能会来得更早,而且我可能会成功。”

Writing about her challenges, Nao, who is now married, said she wanted to help others who might be feeling desperate, particularly at a time when so many people are sequestered from friends and colleagues.

现在已经结婚的奈绪在写下自己的困难时说,她想帮助那些可能感到绝望的人,尤其是在这个许多人与朋友和同事隔绝的时候。

“Knowing someone went through or is going through something similar as you — and knowing that someone is seeking professional help for that and that it actually helped — would encourage people to do a similar thing,” said Nao, who said she wanted to help remove the taboos associated with mental illness in Japan.

“知道有人遇到过或正在经历类似的事情,知道有人为此寻求专业帮助,而且确实有帮助,这可以鼓励人们去做类似的事情,”奈绪说,她希望为消除日本与精神疾病相关的禁忌而出一份力。

Nao’s husband could see how much she struggled with the long working hours and brutal office culture at the consulting firm where they first met. Then when she quit, she felt adrift.

奈绪与丈夫初次见面是在她工作的那家咨询公司,他可以看出,漫长的工作时间和残酷的办公室文化令她感到痛苦。当她辞职的时候,她觉得自己失去了根基。

During the pandemic, women have suffered disproportionate job losses. They made up the bulk of employees within the industries most affected by infection control measures, including restaurants, bars and hotels.

在大流行期间,女性的失业率格外之高。在餐馆、酒吧和酒店等受防疫措施影响最大的行业,员工大部分都是女性。

About half of all working women hold part-time or contract jobs, and when business flatlined, companies cut those employees first. In the first nine months of last year, 1.44 million such workers lost their jobs, more than half of them women.

大约一半的职业女性从事兼职或合同工,当业务下滑时,公司会首先裁掉这部分雇员。在去年的前九个月,有144万这样的工人失去了工作,其中一半以上是女性。

Although Nao quit her consulting job voluntarily to seek psychiatric treatment, she remembers feeling wracked with insecurity, no longer able to pay her rent. When she and her then-fiancé decided to accelerate their wedding plans, her father accused her of being selfish.

尽管奈绪主动辞去了在咨询公司的工作,去寻求精神治疗,但她无法再支付房租,因为不安全感而备受折磨。当她和未婚夫决定尽快结婚时,她的父亲指责她自私。

“I just felt like I lost everything,” she recalled.

“我感觉自己失去了一切,”她回忆说。

Those feelings, she said, triggered the depression that led to her suicide attempt. After spending some time in a psychiatric hospital and continuing medication, her self-confidence improved. She found a four-day-a-week job working in the digital operation of a magazine group and is now able to manage the workload.

她说,这些感觉引发了抑郁,导致她试图自杀。在精神病院住了一段时间并继续接受药物治疗后,她的自信心有所提高。她在一家杂志集团的数字运营部门找到了一份每周工作四天的工作,现在已经能够应付日常工作了。

In the past, suicide rates in Japan have spiked during times of economic crisis, including after the burst of the property-based bubble in the 1990s and the global downturn in 2008.

过去,日本的自杀率曾在经济危机期间飙升,包括1990年代房地产泡沫破裂和2008年全球经济衰退之后。

During those periods, it was men who were most affected by job losses and who committed suicide at higher rates. Historically, suicides among men in Japan have outnumbered those among women by a factor of at least two to one.

在这些时期,男性受失业影响最大,自杀率也较高。从历史上看,日本男性的自杀人数至少是女性的两倍。

“They became more desperate after losing their jobs or fortunes,” said Testuya Matsubayashi, a professor of political science at Osaka University who specializes in social epidemiology.

“他们在失去工作或财富后变得更加绝望,”大阪大学(Osaka University)专门研究社会流行病学的政治学教授松林哲也(Testuya Matsubayashi)说。

Last year, Dr. Matsubayashi noted that in those Japanese prefectures with the highest unemployment rates, suicides among women under 40 rose the most. More than two-thirds of the women who committed suicide in 2020 were unemployed.

去年,松林注意到在失业率最高的几个县中,40岁以下女性的自杀率上升最多。2020年自杀的女性超过三分之二处于无业状态。

Among women under 40, suicides rose by close to 25 percent, and among adolescents, the number of high school girls taking their lives doubled last year.

在40岁以下女性中,自杀上升了将近25%,在青少年中,高中女生的自杀去年增加了一倍。

In Ms. Hashimoto’s case, fears of financial dependence contributed to her sense of hopelessness.

对桥本而言,对财务依赖的恐惧加剧了她的绝望感。

Even when the gym where she worked as a personal trainer reopened, she did not feel emotionally stable enough to return. She then felt guilty about relying on her boyfriend, emotionally and financially.

即便在她担任私人教练的健身房重新开放后,她也因为情绪不安无法前去工作。在情感和财务上对男友的依赖令她感到愧疚。

She had met Nozomu Takeda, 23, who works in the construction industry, at the gym, where he was her training client. They had been dating only three months when she confided that her depression was becoming untenable.

现年23岁的男友武田望(Nozomu Takeda,音)在建筑行业工作,两人是在健身房认识的,他是她的客户。当她向他透露自己已经不堪抑郁折磨时,两人才交往三个月。

Unable to afford therapy and suffering severe anxiety attacks, she said she identified with others who “felt very pushed into a corner.”

她没钱接受心理治疗,并且出现了严重的恐慌发作,她说她能理解那些“感到被逼到角落”的人。

When she attempted suicide, all she could think about was freeing Mr. Takeda from the responsibility of taking care of her. “I wanted to take the burden off him,” she said.

当她尝试自杀时,她能想到的只是这样一来武田就可以不用再照顾她。“我想给他免去这个拖累,”她说。

Even those who have not lost jobs may have come under extra stress. Before the pandemic, working from home was extremely rare in Japan. Then women suddenly had to worry not only about pleasing their bosses from afar, but also about juggling new safety and hygiene protocols for their children, or protecting elderly parents who were more vulnerable to the virus.

即便那些没有失去工作的人也面临着更多的压力。大流行之前,居家工作在日本是极为罕见的。然而一夜之间,女性不但要让远处的老板满意,还得疲于应对孩子们的新安全和卫生规则,或者要保护年迈的父母,因为他们更容易受到病毒的侵染。

The expectations to excel did not change, but their contact with friends and other support networks diminished.

对她们的高要求并没有变,但与朋友和其他支持网络的接触却减少了。

“If they can’t get together with other people or share their stresses with other people, then it’s not really surprising” that they are feeling pressured or depressed, said Kumiko Nemoto, a professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.

“如果不能和其他人见面,或与之分享她们的压力,那么可以想象”她们会感到压力或抑郁,京都外国语大学(Kyoto University of Foreign Studies)社会学教授根本宫美子(Kumiko Nemoto)说。

Having survived her own suicide attempt, Ms. Hashimoto now wants to help others learn to talk through their emotional problems and connect them to professionals.

她自己也曾经自杀未遂,如今她希望帮助他人,与她们交流情感问题,帮她们介绍专业人士。

Mr. Takeda says he appreciates how Ms. Hashimoto speaks openly about her depression. “She is the type of person who really shares what she needs and what is wrong,” he said. “So it was very easy for me to support her because she vocalizes what she needs.”

武田望说他赞赏桥本公开谈论自己的抑郁症的勇气。“她是真的会说出她想要什么、什么地方出了问题的那种人,”他说。“因此我要支持她并不难,因为她会说出她的需求。”

Together, the couple developed an app, which they are calling Bloste (short for “blow off steam”), to match therapists with those seeking counseling. Ms. Hashimoto is trying to recruit both seasoned professionals and those at the start of their careers, who are more likely to charge affordable rates for young clients.

两人一起开发了一个应用,他们称之为Bloste(“宣泄情感”[blow off steam]的缩写),可以帮那些寻求心理咨询的人找到咨询师。除了经验丰富的专业人士,桥本还试图招募刚入行的新人,因为这些人更有可能给年轻的客户开出比较低廉的价格。

Eventually, she would like to train as a therapist herself, with a special focus on women.

最终,她自己也想受训成为一名咨询师,专门面向女性。

“The country has mainly focused on moving women up the career ladder and their economic well-being,” Ms. Hashimoto said. “But I would like to emphasize women’s mental health.”

“这个国家关心的主要是女性在职场的上升空间以及她们的经济福祉,”桥本说。“但我想侧重于女性的精神健康。”
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