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The number of suicides in Japan dropped in 2017, marking the 8th-straight year of declines.

The National Police Agency says that 21,140 people in Japan committed suicide last year. That's down 3.5 percent from the previous year.

The number of men who killed themselves was nearly 15,000, more than double the figure for women.

A welfare ministry survey in November shows that people in their 40s accounted for the largest number of suicides with 17 percent of the total, followed by those in their 50s with 16 percent, and people in their 60s with 15 percent.

People aged 19 and under were the only group to see an increase from the previous year.

The survey indicates that health issues were the most common reasons for taking one's life, followed by financial and family problems.

The number of suicides had exceeded 30,000 for 14 consecutive years until 2011. The figure peaked in 2003 at over 34,400.

Ministry officials say suicides have decreased amid a stronger economy and improvements in counseling programs. But they add that the rates for Japan are still high among industrialized nations.

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