Toward a society
where people and animals can be healthy and happily


High suicide rates in regions with high dairy/livestock output

This study builds upon our current knowledge of suicide rates in rural areas by examining possible correlations with the type of agriculture that predominates in each rural area. We have analyzed specific factors that may play a role in the heightened suicide risk in Japan’s rural and specifically agricultural municipalities, allowing researchers and policymakers alike to develop new insights into this phenomenon and potentially develop new interventions to more effectively target at-risk individuals based on compositional and contextual factors.

TOP DOWNLOADED PAPER 2018-2019 in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (30 April, 2020). Among work published between January 2018 and December 2019, this paper received some of the most downloads in the 12 months following online publication.

Disparities in infant mortality tend to widen between household occupations

This study focuses on the relationship between occupation, environment, and supports for perinatal parents given the recent rise in inter-prefectural inequality in the under-5 mortality rate in Japan since the 2000s. Using national vital statistics by household occupation between 1999 and 2017, we showed the existence and increasing time trend of inter-occupational inequality in infant mortality. Furthermore, the inequality among household occupation was different according to the regional characteristics. Our findings suggest that, even if Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for a long time, certain occupations and unemployed increase the risk of infant mortality.

Infant Mortality Rates for Farming and Unemployed Households in the Japanese Prefectures: An Ecological Time Trend Analysis, 1999–2017
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Rural life and suicide: does the effect of the community context vary by country of birth?

International migration is a global phenomenon, and has drawn extensive debate even in inclusive welfare states like Sweden. Immigrants may suffer from serious health issues, attributable to discrimination due to national immigration policies and negative social norms for immigrants in certain residential areas, and the impacts of this discrimination may vary across the places where they live. We therefore focused on rurality as a potential areal context strongly affecting the mental health of immigrants; and, using whole Swedish registry data, we evaluated the effect of its interaction with immigrants’ countries of birth on suicide risk. We found highly interesting results, showing clear differences in suicide risk by gender, areal size when evaluating rurality, and country of birth.


Neighborhood farm density, types of agriculture, and depressive symptoms among older farmers

Against a backdrop of common structural changes occurring worldwide in the agricultural sector including increasing global competition, a decline in the number of farms, and increasing farm size farmers’ mental health is increasingly becoming a global cause for concern. In Japan, farming is characterized by both a declining and aging farming population. Farmers may suffer from serious health issues and social isolation that might be attributable to a variety of factors including the neighborhood environment. Despite this, until now there has been little research on the mental health of farmers in Japan and the factors associated with it. The aim of this study was to examine whether neighborhood farm density and the type of agriculture are associated with the mental health of farmers in Japan. More specifically, we used data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study to evaluate the cross-level interaction for depressive symptoms between farm density at the neighborhood level and occupation. Results from a Poisson regression analysis showed clear differences in depressive risk among farmers by neighborhood farm density.

Neighborhood farm density, types of agriculture, and depressive symptoms among older farmers: a cross-sectional study - BMC Public Health
Background Farmers may have an increased risk for poor mental health. In connection with this, factors specific to the neighborhood environment such as farm den...

Does increased migration affect the rural–urban divide in suicide? A register-based repeated cohort study in Sweden from 1991 to 2015

In Sweden, where immigration has been increasing, dispersion policies have directed refugees to live in rural areas to prevent their concentration in urban areas, and in order to counter the effects of economic decline and population loss in rural areas. Rural contextual factors have been suggested to be related to suicide rates, with a stronger impact among foreign-born individuals. We therefore focused on the long-term trends in suicide mortality stratified by country of birth and rurality. We designed a series of repeated cohort analyses with 5-year follow-ups, using Swedish national register data between 1991 and 2015. Results from a three-level Poisson regression analysis showed clearly different trends in suicide mortality by country of birth, rurality and its unit of aggregation and gender.

Differences in depressive symptoms by rurality in Japan: a cross-sectional multilevel study using different aggregation units of municipalities and neighborhoods (JAGES)

Urbanization may affect mental health differentially depending on the regional context. A focus on geographic units to evaluate rurality could improve our understanding of the mechanisms that link the characteristics of residence and depression. Our study was designed to address multiple layers of the rural environment. To elucidate the relationship between depression and rurality, we used population density as a measure of municipality-level rurality, and the time it took to travel to a densely-inhabited district as a measure of neighborhood-level rurality (i.e., a smaller unit within a municipality) in Japan. We also examined how the association between rurality and depression can be differentially explained by community social capital according to geographical unit. This cross-sectional study used data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study and included 144,822 individuals from 937 neighborhoods across 39 municipalities. Results from a three-level Poisson regression analysis showed that the association between rurality and depression varies according to the geographic unit analyzed, and different components of community social capital may explain the variation.

Differences in depressive symptoms by rurality in Japan: a cross-sectional multilevel study using different aggregation units of municipalities and neighborhoods (JAGES) - International Journal of Health Geographics
Background Rurality can reflect many aspects of the community, including community characteristics that may be associated with mental health. In this study, we ...