Japan's notoriously high-stress education system and other pressures appear to be partial factors in a sharp rise in child suicides - the highest they've been in three decades. 

The country's Education Ministry says that in fiscal year 2016-17, 250 children from elementary school up through high school took their own lives.  That's five more than the previous year and the highest since 1986.

Children had reported concerns from worries about their future, to home pressures, to bullying.  But the reasons behind 140 of the deaths are not clear because the children did not leave suicide notes.

Child suicide rates in Japan are so high that it is the leading cause of death among young people in the country.

"The number of suicides of students have stayed high, and that is an alarming issue which should be tackled," said education ministry official Noriaki Kitazaki.

This flies in the face of the progress that Japan has made on lowering its overall suicide rate, from about 34,500 in 2003 to 21,000 in 2017 according to police figures.  The UN World Health Organization credits the Japanese government's anti-suicide campaign.

If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  Suicide Prevention Australia also has a wealth of help resources online.  If you know someone in immediate danger, call 000.