On Sunday, people in Japan were left shocked and saddened after award-winning actress Yuko Takeuchi was found dead at her Tokyo home at the age of 40. Though it is not yet officially confirmed, it is being said that the ‘Miss Sherlock’ actress took her own life.Also Read - COVID-19 May Cause Global Tsunami of Mental Health Problems

More concerning is the fact that this is not a standalone case. Notably, she was the fourth star in the country to die by suicide since May and her demise has caused concern among officials about a rising suicide rate during the pandemic.

Fourth celebrity suicide in Japan

Before her, 36-year-old TV actress Sei Ashina, was found dead in her Tokyo apartment on September 14.

30-year-old actor and singer Haruma Miura died in his Tokyo home on July 18 and a 22-year-old professional wrestler and reality TV star, Hana Kimura also apparently died by suicide in May after facing a barrage of negative messages on social media, the Japan Times said.

Mental Health in focus

After a spate of high-profile deaths, the Japanese government on Monday urged people to come forward and seek help if they are struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.

Expressing concern, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said, “There has been an uptick in the number of suicide cases since July. We have to acknowledge the fact that so many people are ending their precious lives.”

Celebrities aside, the number of suicides in Japan has spiked in August with 1,849 cases (about 60 cases a day), as per an AFP report. Anxiety around Covid-19 is contributing to people’s despair, public health officials said.

Notably, suicide has long been a major social issue in Japan and the country has the fifth-highest suicide rate among developed nations. Studies have shown that work-related stress and isolation were among the risk factors for suicide in the country.