studyブログ

在校生による新ブログ【Idea Canvas】10

DATE : 2021/1/23

美しいとされる姿

初めての大学入学共通テストが16日、全国で一斉に始まった。新型コロナウイルス対応の緊急事態宣言が11都府県に出されるなか、約53万5千人が厳しい感染防止策が取られた会場で試験に臨んだ。次の3~5年、もしくはそれより長い期間、どのような環境でどのように過ごすのかを決める受験は、生徒にとっては人生の節目となる大関門だと言えよう。 

 受験の話をするうえで、一つ気がかりなことがある。友人との出来事だ。この場を借りて、友人に謝罪をしたい。私たちが受験生と呼ばれ始めた春、電話口で私はあなたに対して思わず怒ってしまった。プライベートな話のため詳細は割愛するが、どの学部にも惹かれないと語る友人が志望校を他人からの推薦によって選定したという流れがどうも気に入らなかったのだ。捲し立てるように持論をぶつける私は、恐怖でしかなかっただろう、あの日は本当にごめん。 

他人に流される友人に対して怒りを覚えていたような当時の私は、≪大学に行く理由≫を生み出すことができないのであれば大学を受験する資格すらない、と頑なな自分の考えに囚われて(固執していた)いたように思う。そのため、何をやりたいのか、私は何を成し遂げられるのか、というように来たる自身の未来に焦点を当てて、読書をしたり、各大学のシラバスをチェックしていた。

もちろん間違いではなかったのだと思う。慎重に自分の心に耳を傾けた結果、それに準ずる行動が起こせることはとても幸せなことであると感じるからだ。実際、私は留学や高校在学中の経験を経て得た問いに通ずる学問に出会い、志望校も定めることができた。

 しかし、もし私に情熱を注ぎたい≪何か≫が生まれなかったら?どれだけ思考したり本を読んでもピンと来るものがなかったら?おそらく私は何も成し遂げることのできない無力感・不安感に襲われ、卑屈になり立ち止まっていたことだろう。無情にも時は止まってはくれない。出願期間は迫り、共通テストもやってくる。

 もし何にも興味が湧かず悩んでいる読者がいるのであれば、少しマインドをリセットしてみてほしい。心底興味がある物事を遂行する行為のみが美しく正しいわけではなく、とりあえず行動してみる、ということも素晴らしい在り方なのだと。

前者ばかりが褒められ、後者が後ろめたさを感じる必要は全くないのである。

行動している貴方は、生を全うしている素晴らしい人間である。

 

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Suicide: The leading cause of death in Japan among youth.

 

On the 16th and 17th of January, more than 530,000 Japanese High School students took a set of exams that could decide their futures. The Common Test for University Admissions. They filed into classrooms where they sat, socially distanced, masks covering their faces. The culmination of years of study, long hours at cram schools, sleepless nights of memorization and stress.

 

While the results of these exams will potentially lift many and be a vehicle to greater opportunities, for many, the road there can be fraught with pressure, anxiety, and stress. Pressure from parents, teachers and other authority figures, unyielding pressure, a constant demand for results of the highest quality. All of this from as young as 6 or 7 years old.

 

In 2019, the suicide rate in Japan hit a record low of 20,169, 3.7% lower than the previous year. It was the lowest number of recorded suicides since data tabulation had begun in 1978. However, there was an exception. For those under 20-years-old, the numbers rose by just over 10% from 2018, the only age group to see an increase. 

 

In October of 2020, there was news from Japan that made headlines around the world. More people had died in one month from suicide than those who died from the coronavirus in the whole of 2020. At first glance, these facts may seem shocking. That’s because they are. 

 

Yes, there are explanations for both of these things. That suicide is a common cause of death among youth has been known for many years. This can be attributed to Japan’s low level of violent crime, as well as safe public transportation and an extensive healthcare program. The October statistic can also be attributed to the low overall number of coronavirus related deaths in Japan during 2020.

 

However, these reasons do not and cannot explain away the major problem that Japan has with suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 39 in Japan. Suicide is also in the top 3 causes of death in every other age group. Japan is the only G7 country where suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 34, and the death rate itself is high compared to the other members. 

 

Japan has long been known for its culture of overwork. The word ‘karoshi’, literally ‘death by overwork’, was created in Japan in the 1970s to describe the phenomenon of deaths relating to overwork, most commonly suicides. Cases of work-related suicide have continued to plague the country since. In the case of younger suicides, bullying at school is often the most common reason given. 

 

However, while bullying may continue to be a problem, simple overwork and stress are factors for younger people as well. Studying more than 10 hours a day, studying late into the night, constant demand for results and constant pressure to succeed will take its toll on anyone. It does on adults, when they are forced to work overtime, forced to meet impossible deadlines and more. 

 

Karoshi is not something limited to adults, but to children and teenagers as well. Get on a train at 8-9 pm on a weekday in Tokyo. You will almost certainly see at least one elementary school student, hoisting a backpack specialized for cram school purposes, riding home from a 3-hour study session. This kind of overwork and effort is naturalized from a young age, encouraged. Add to that a pandemic, and is it any surprise that in our competitive modern society that youth suicides are rising?

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 119 in Japan for immediate assistance. The TELL Lifeline is available for those who need free and anonymous counseling at 03-5774-0992. 

TELL Lifeline Website: Lifeline | TELL Japan (telljp.com)

Japanese Government Suicide Hotline Resources:電話相談|自殺対策|厚生労働省 (mhlw.go.jp)

 

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