TOKYO: A recent survey by Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) showed that 17,034 elderly people living alone died at home across the country from January to March, reported Xinhua.

The survey covered 60,466 dead bodies handled by Japanese police during the first three months of 2024.

Of them, 21,716 were of people who lived by themselves, including cases of suicide. Nearly 80 per cent of the “lonely deaths,“ or 17,034 people, were aged 65 and over, including 2,080 people aged between 65 and 69, 3,204 between 70 and 74, 3,480 between 75 and 79, 3,348 between 80 and 84, and 4,922 aged 85 and over.

A lonely death is defined as one in which a person dies without anyone else witnessing it, with a certain period passing before the body is found, according to an interim discussion in 2023 by a Cabinet Office working group tasked with looking into the issue.

The NPA is expected to continue collecting the data as part of government efforts to tackle the issue of a rapidly greying society.

The total number of deaths at home among elderly people living alone in 2024 is estimated to reach about 68,000, according to the survey.