TOKYO, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The number of suicides recorded in Japan dropped in 2017 marking the 8th straight year of decline, the National Police Agency said in a report on Friday.
According to the agency's preliminary data, the number of suicides declined by 3.5 percent from the previous year to 21,140 cases.
The number of males committing suicide fell to 14,693, marking the first time the rate has been below the 15,000 line in 22 years, while those of females declined to a new low for a second straight year at 6,447 cases.
According to the agency, health issues were the primary reason for people committing suicide, followed by financial problems and family issues.
By region, Akita Prefecture in Japan's northeast recorded the most number of suicides in Japan in the recording period, followed by Aomori in Japan's north and Yamanashi Prefecture in central Japan.
According to a survey by Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in November last year, males in their 40s and 50s accounted for the largest number of suicides, although there has been an increase in teen suicides, according to the official figures.
Following a high-profile case last year of an alleged serial killer using a popular social networking site to contact his victims who were having suicidal thoughts, the government is being urged to do more to address suicides among young people here.
The number of suicides in Japan peaked at over 34,400 cases in 2003 and had stayed above the 30,0000 line for 14 straight years until then, the agency's data showed.
The recent decline, according to health ministry officials, is owing to a stronger economy and better access to improved counseling services.