Photo/Illutration The Asahi Shimbun

The number of suicides in Japan in 2021 dropped only slightly from the previous year to 20,830, after seeing the figure increase in 2020 for the first time in 11 years amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary figures released on Jan. 21 by the health ministry showed the number fell 251, or 1.2 percent, from 2020.

Of the 20,830 cases, men accounted for 13,815, down 240 from a year earlier, marking the 12th consecutive year of decline.

The figure for women fell only 11 from 2020 to 7,015, the second straight year that the number remained above 7,000.

The suicide rate in 2021 per 100,000 people stood at 16.5 nationwide. The rate for men was 22.5, while that for women was 10.8.

By prefecture, Yamanashi recorded the highest suicide rate at 23.7, followed by 23.6 in Aomori and 21.2 in Niigata.

The number of suicides in 2020 rose by 912 from the previous year to 21,081, marking the first increase since 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis following the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.