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Suicide in Japan


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
According to the National Police Agency, the number of suicides in Japan decreased by 2.9%.

Suicides in Japan total 31,042 last year


Related links:

Suicide and Modern Japan

Chika Watanabe

Japan Seminar


For years, Japan has been called the "suicide country." During the 1950's Japan ranked within the top five countries with the highest suicide rate (Pinguet, p.57). In 1996, Japan's suicide rate was 18.4% per 100,000 people, ranking tenth in the world (EMAS 1). For years, Japan has been called the "suicide culture." This naming is, not only due to the high suicide rate, but also to Japan's unique history of suicide, and the underlying facts regarding suicide reveal traits unique to Japan.

The first recorded suicide of a bushi, warrior, was in 1156. Until then, there were instances where women committed suicide for love, but this was the first time bushi-do (way of the warrior) was connected to suicide (Picken, p.68). Suicide came to be the bushi's way to avoid shame, the worst thing for a warrior. To die early but by his own hands was dignity, while to die like a dog (inu-jini) and by another's hands was shame (Pinguet, p.74). The bushi revered Buddhism, which, if it does not encourage death, it does not reject it as separate from life either. Thus seppuku, or harakiri, became an honorable act -- a sign of fearlessness, loyalty, and avoidance of a shameful, lingering life. This mentality probably existed in the minds of warriors during World War II as well, but this is not a very accurate example of suicide in Japan because these deaths occurred in a state of mass hysteria (Picken, p.116).

In order to understand modern Japan, one must look at recent statistics. Aside from the fact that overall suicide rates have increased in the past decade, it is meaningful to note that suicide is the number one reason for young girls' deaths and number two for boys (Kamizato, p.34), that the suicide rates of middle aged men have sharply increased (EMAS 2), and that the suicide rate of women (11.8%) compared to men (20.6%) is higher than in other countries (EMAS 1). Various aspects of Japanese society can also be seen by examining the reasons for committing suicide.

For decades, the highest suicide/attempted suicide rate among the youth have occurred during the third year of Junior High and the last year of High School. These years are just before entrance exams, juken, and students probably feel the most pressure. The number one reason for youth committing suicide is school, with a higher percentage than in other countries. "Juken jigoku," examination hell, is literally hell for students. It is now a fact that schools do not prepare students for examinations. In order to survive in the severe competition and enter a good high school or a prestigious college, one must go to juku, examination training centers (Kamizato, p.38).

Failure is shame for the student, for the teachers, and for the family. The idea of individualism is not yet mature in the Japanese mind, and what one does is still part of another one's life. A Japanese person grows up always trying to not be meiwaku, to not bother others. A person cannot act without thinking of how it may affect his/her friends, family, and society. Thus a girl has to be polite to her neighbors so that her mother does not suffer from shame, and a child cannot fail an entrance exam because s/he has to spare the shame of all the people involved. My brother had always been oblivious to pressure, but while he struggled through the juken jigoku, he actually used to nervously twitch from the strain. The problem with most children, is that their school and their parents apply pressure on them, passively or aggressively, and the children themselves think that they cannot give up. Doryoku and konjo, an extreme form of "trying hard," are two of the favorite words of the Japanese. One is admired for these two virtues, and giving up is shame (Picken, p.176). For the Japanese, suicide is not the same as giving up. It is a dignified resignation, a form of compensation to spare the shame of oneself or of others (Ki, p.80). The fear of shame prevents people from trying to search a solution to their problems. The reason why so many young people commit suicide in Japan is that they cannot give up or find comfort from pressure and teenage turmoil in anybody but themselves.

For the last ten years, the suicide rate of middle aged people have increased, especially those of corporate and business executives which rose 16.3% from 1996 to 1997 (EMAS 2). This is probably due to the bubble burst and the failure of businesses over the last few years. Since failure is not accepted in Japan, many resort to suicide as a way of compensation. There was once a case where the president of a certain airline committed suicide as an apology for the crashing of one of the company's planes. Most Westerners could not understand this mentality (Nakamura, p.156). Although Japanese people are changing nowadays, the idea of apologizing with his/her own life still remains. When a company executive or a political figure takes a wrong action, s/he might not apologize by literally committing suicide, but will often resign from his/her post, a symbolic form of suicide (Former Prime Minister Hosokawa, former Minister of Defense Nakanishi, former presidents of the Big Four securities companies, to name a few.) "Better death than life without honor" is a saying that Japanese still use today (Ki, 78). An apology with words is just on the surface. One's remorse cannot be truly felt until s/he compensates with his/her own life. Until such clear actions are taken, people will accuse the person for living ome-ome-to, without honor.

With the rapid changes of post-war Japan, the Japanese are suffering a psychological lag. The greatest effect falls on the business men who must adapt to these changes faster than any other person in Japan, for economy and commerce are the most sensitive to modernization. The work place has changed from being secure and family-like, to a battle field of competitions. Even the home is now small with only the nuclear family living together, and so there are fewer people who can offer comfort. With the increase of tanshinfunin, living away from the family because of business, and the tendency to over-work, loneliness is spreading like a disease (Inamura). To the Japanese who have always lived as a community, loneliness is the biggest fear. "Sazaesan," a cartoon that has survived for decades, is the best example of what the Japanese long to have again; a large family where there is always someone to lean on, a family-like, relaxed work-place, and a neighborhood that is just part of a large family. The older people of Japan have not been able to completely reject this way of life yet, and the isolation of people from each other hurts them more than younger generations. The middle aged people who answered my interviews were mostly concerned about relationship problems as reasons for committing suicide (Kousaka, Ikebe).

With smaller families, it is true that children in this modern world do not learn as much from the family as before, especially regarding relationships. Each individual is more or less isolated. Children don't know what it is to share a house with a dozen other family members from at least three different generations, always to have someone at home for comfort. And older people feel lost as they realize that now there is no one else but themselves (Inamura, p.279). Despite these alarming changes, nothing is being done. There are almost no counselors in Japan and psychologists are not yet experienced in dealing with people's life problems. Schools, which are children's number one reason for committing suicide, stubbornly remain unaltered. Teachers fail to notice students who seem to be suffering, and even when they do, they often leave the problem untouched, expecting it to disappear after a while. They don't realize that now children cannot find comfort or solutions in their families as before. They cannot see that children nowadays drown in their problems more easily, for they have no place to escape in the cold, concrete jungle. Even when a counselor is placed at a school, Japanese children are reluctant to go and seek help because they fear others' eyes. As an interviewee pointed out, in Japan there is still a strong prejudice against those who go to psychiatrists or counselors as "kyoojin," crazy people (Ikebe). Japanese people nowadays cannot easily find help from others anymore. Such conditions of loneliness, brought about by the sudden changes of modernization, strike the originally community-oriented Japanese very hard, as they psychologically fall behind their environmental changes.

Japan's high suicide rate of women, and the top reasons for these deaths being psychological problems such as depression (Inamura, p.265), reveal the suffering faces behind their docile, loyal attitudes that are so well known around the world. Women had always lived serving men. This is not only a Japanese phenomenon, but it seems that the trend is stronger and more persistent in Japan than in other industrialized countries. Western countries actually have a history of women's rights movements. In such countries, some progress has been made for the rights of women. Yet Japan, despite -- or because -- of its violently sudden modernization after years of isolation, still retains its old values in the hearts of the people. Although on the surface Japanese society is one of the most modernized, underneath it all, the people still believe in superstitions and old prejudices. Thus, those who complain are shameful, those who go to psychiatrists are "crazy," and women are preferred to be domestic. The social pressure to keep these old values in place is powerful. A society where apparent harmony, perfection, and stability are the rules, a non-standard character is placed in the nakama-hazure section, outside the main stream. Therefore, changes have always been difficult in Japan. Nowadays women are walled between a strong tradition -- telling them to be good wives and good mothers -- and the modern current -- telling them to be bold and go out into the world. Those who become house-wives might be valued by the husband, but with new machines and efficient houses, women's tasks at home are not as great, and thus as significant, as before. At the same time, the new trend tends to flatter working women and devalue domestic wives, while most Japanese men prefer docile women. Thus women have no place to turn. With nuclear families and a tighter range of relationships, women now suddenly find that they can no longer ask their mothers for advice every time there is a problem, nor freely complain to their neighbors and friends. They suffer and suffer between different standards until they realize that there is no where to go. For the next few decades, there will probably be an increase in the number of women who remain single, who become working mothers, or who have children without marrying. Hopefully, such women will find Japan an easier place to live in the future, where families will not exclude them because of shame, where others will not give her dirty looks, and where helpful services will be available. Then, women will not see death as the only way out.

Talking of women, a special aspect of suicide unique to Japan that often involves women comes to mind; shinju. Written "inside the heart," it was originally the word for a couple who committed suicide together because they suffered from obstacles to their love. During the Edo period it became a boom, and plays on shinju, as well as actual suicides of couples, were very popular. It was their way of proving to the world that their love was authentic (Seward, p.116).

This tendency to die with others has spread to include parent-child suicides and family suicides. The most common instances are when parents decide to die and take their children with them, thus shinju sometimes translated as murder-suicide (Inamura, p.277). The most common ages for women committing shinju is in their twenties and thirties, while for men it is older. Mother-child suicides happen most when the child is between one and three years of age, the top reasons being psychological problems such as depression, and conflicts at home. Father-child suicides, which happen much less, happen when the child is four to six years old, the most popular reasons being failure in business and loss of job. For family suicides, the most common ages of the children are between one and three, and the main reasons are illness and economic problems. In many cases the parent/s do not have a job (Kamizato, p.69).

These trends show some special traits of Japanese families. The fact that women suffer more and most from psychological problems proves that they feel trapped, as if in a bell jar, and cannot find help for their sufferings. Men on the other hand feel hopeless when their duty in life -- work -- fails. And when one of the family has a terminal disease, the parents feel that they cannot live without that one member. This probably points to the Japanese tendency to value the group more than the individual. A family is a unit that cannot be broken. Isshindotai, "one heart, same body," implies that people in this state cannot separate -- such is the case of a family (Matsuoka). They must stay together and the consequences of one's actions affect the rest of the family. For example, there was a case where a middle aged professor had an affair with one of his students. The girl became pregnant. It is suspected that the man killed the girl and then confessed to his wife. A few days later the man, his wife, and the children, jumped off a cliff. The man's suicide is in a way understandable, but why the rest of the family as well? This is because the wife would have had to live with the man's shame and bad reputation if she did not jump with him. She did not want to be abandoned, especially with the worst burden one could ever have -- shame. Without the parents, there would be no one to take care of the children. The choices were either to live together in shame or to die in unison without fear. As a family, they could not leave a member to suffer in loneliness. By committing family suicide, the parents' social responsibility for the children, and the harmony of the family, were preserved (Picken, p.212).

Children are often the victims of these murder-suicides by their parents. As the statistics have shown, most shinju occur when the child is still an infant. This comes from the idea that children are the parents' possessions, or better say, their responsibilities (Picken, 213). This responsibility is the greatest duty for adults. It is the one commitment where failure is never, ever, accepted. Therefore a man's failure in his work, which may harm the family, is his greatest shame. And a child's failure to become socially acceptable is the parents' fault. Children are often used as reflections of the parents. "Look how rude she is. You can just see what her parents are like," is a commonly heard comment. The bond between mother and child is especially strong. In a culture where men have had incredible authority, children were the women's sole area of considerable autonomy. Fathers had the ultimate voice, but mothers had, and still have to a great extent today, a larger role in the children's lives -- from giving them life to making sure they are raised properly. Therefore if a child does not turn out to be as expected, the mother is blamed, and she blames herself. Mothers committing shinju with their mentally or physically disabled children is not uncommon. At the same time, since children are considered to be a bunshin, a part, of the mother, a psychologically ill mother often takes her child to death without hesitation (Picken, 217). No matter in whom the problem exists, parents feel it just to die together with the children, for they are isshindotai.

Japan as a society may drive people to suicide more than other countries because of its strong sense of rightness and its tendency to value the community. There are certain ways people are expected to be, and the Japanese are careful not to be different for fear of shame, which would place them on the side of the wrong, outside the community. Of course, these characteristics are changing. One commentator pointed out nineteen-year old Amuro Namie's open, scandalous marriage as the symbol of a new generation that defies old values of shame and secrecy (Matsuoka). Yet, she is only a temporary idol and a symbol, and the masses' present change in attitude towards old views is probably only on the surface. The never-changing pressure to be the same as everybody else still exists. It might even be stronger now, with the showering of "the right way to be" messages from the overwhelming mass media. In a classroom the trait is emphasized. In a Japanese class, those who are different hang alone outside the tightly knit class community, often subject to bullying by all the others. Very commonly, former-loners become bullies themselves when they get the chance. The biggest Japanese fear is still to be nakama-hazure, a loner. The fact that, while in the United States eighty percent of the suicides are foreshadowed, in Japan only thirty percent of suicides are either warned or predicted, is alarming (Kamizato, p.46). The fear of being different and alone makes those with problems less open and the ones around them less sensitive to others. People outside the mainstream of society are automatically rejected. For this, suicide becomes the only alternative when they -- young children, handicapped people, old people -- feel like a burden more than accepted members of the social group (Katsui).

Japan as a culture offers suicide as an option in life. The great influence of Buddhism in this country is reflected in the way Japanese people do not see life and death as separate. One's spirit does not ascend to gokuraku, Buddhist heaven, immediately like in the Christian world. Often, it is thought to linger in this world for a long time around those s/he loved. Photographs are often placed in the butsudan to show the closeness of the two worlds. Flowers, food, and other every-day objects are daily placed in the butsudan, and tombs if possible, as if the person were still alive. For the Japanese, death has never been punishment, and suicide never a sin. Suicide was rather a dignified renouncing of the world in which they live, to compensate for a wrong-doing or to demonstrate their spiritual strength by showing total self-control in bringing about their own ends (Picken, 233). It was the bushis' last act of dignity -- their last, strongest voice. Oda Nobunaga bravely stayed in his burning house and committed seppuku before the enemy troops could reach him. Shinju was a couple's way of proving to the world that their love was authentic. Suicide is a form of protest, indirect and thus the most powerful, for Japanese society would reject opinions directly voiced.

Suicide has been man's last right. When life has no purpose, when it just lingers on and on, death is the best option. Cherry blossoms in the spring time and cicadas in the summer time live briefly but gloriously. Such senses of beauty has romanticized suicide. It became popular themes in plays and novels (Ki, 82). Writers Dazai Osamu, Kawabata Yasunari, and Mishima Yukio ended their lives with such romanticized deaths in their minds. The Japanese in the past committed suicide for such ideals.

Now, people commit suicide to escape from sufferings in life. Since taboos against suicide never developed, thanks to the ideals and romanticizations, modern Japanese find no problem in simply ending their lives. The difference between the suiciders in the past and the ones now is their understanding of death. A hundred years ago a child experienced the death of a loved one more frequently than the modern child, for they lived with older generations and illnesses were less curable. They were part of a large family that belonged to a community, and all together they prepared the funeral. Death was more real, less dramatic. Families now do not experience death as part of life anymore. It is a disease against which science and medicine are fighting. Death happens in hospitals. Death is a dramatic show that ends with a button on the remote control. Not only children, but adults as well no longer know what death is. With this loss of direction, nobody knows who they are (Kamizato, 257). Japan is a good example where strong tradition, which gave people a sense of dignity and purpose, now clashes with modernization to cause a wave of confusion and loss of identity. This latest current is swallowing the people, dehumanizing society, when what we most need is time to care and to help each other through the rapid changes of the world.


EMAS 1. "Put It Down to Cultural Difference." Economist, Oct 5, 1996.

EMAS 2. "478 Corporate Executives Commit Suicide in '96."

Kyodo News International Inc., June 24, 1997.

Ikebe, philosophy assistant professor; Nara Medical University. (fax) Japan, Dec., 1997.

Inamura, Hiroshi, ed. Chuukoonen no Jisatsu. Tokyo: Domeisha, 1990.

Kamizato, Ichiroo, ed. Seishoonen no Jisatsu. Tokyo: Domeisha, 1988.

Katsui, Nobuko, assistant professor; Nara Medical University, Personal Interview

(over the phone). Japan, Nov., 1997.

Ki, Kim Yang. "Japanese and Korean Attitudes Toward Suicide." Thought Patterns. Chuo Koron, p.206-218, 1983.

Kousaka, Tomoko, teacher; Nara Medical University, Nursing College. (fax)

Japan, Dec., 1997

Matsuoka, Fumio, manager; Nara Medical University. (fax) Japan, Dec., 1997.

Nakamura, Kazuo. Jisatsu. Tokyo: Kinokuniya, 1994.

Picken, Stuart. Suicide: Japan and the West -- A Comparative Study.

Tokyo: The Simul Press, Inc., 1979.

Pinguet, Maurice. La Mort Volontaire Au Japon. Tokyo: Tsukuma Shobo, 1986.

Seppuku - Ritual Suicide

Seppuku - Ritual Suicide

Seppuku, (Sape-puu-kuu) the Japanese formal
language term for ritual suicide (Hara-kiri (Har-rah-kee-ree) is
the common language term.), was an integral aspect of feudal Japan (1192-1868).
It developed as an integral part of the code of bushido and the discipline
of the samurai warrior class.

Hara-kiri, which literally means "stomach cutting" is a particularly painful method
of self-destruction, and prior to the emergence of the samurai as a professional
warrior class was totally foreign to the Japanese.

The early history of Japan reveals quite clearly
that the Japanese were far more interested in living a good life than
in dying a painful death. It was not until well after the introduction
of Buddhism, with its theme of the transitory nature of life and the glory
of death, that such a development became possible.

To the samurai, seppuku--whether ordered as
punishment or chosen in preference to a dishonourable death at the hands
of an enemy--was an unquestionable demonstration of their honour, courage,
loyalty, and moral character.

When samurai were on the battlefield, they
often carried out acts of hara-kiri rapidly and with very little
formal preparation. But on the other occasions, particularly when it was
ordered by a feudal lord, or the shogun (as was directed of Lord Asano
in the Tale of the
47 Ronin) , seppuku or hara-kiri was
a very formal ceremony, requiring certain etiquette, witnesses and considerable

Not all Japanese samurai or lords believed
in it, even though many of them followed the custom. The great Ieyasu Tokugawa,
who founded Japan's last great Shogunate dynasty in 1603, eventually issued
an edict forbidding hara-kiri to both secondary and primary retainers.

The custom was so deeply entrenched, however,
that it continued, and in 1663, at the urging of Lord Nobutsuna Matsudaira
of Izu, the shogunate government issued another, stronger edict, prohibiting
ritual suicide. This was followed up by very stern punishment for any lord
who allowed any of his followers to commit harakiri or seppuku.
Still, the practice continued throughout the long Tokugawa reign, but it
declined considerably as time went by.

Honour for the samurai was dearer than life
and in many cases, self-destruction was regarded not simply as right, but
as the only right course. Disgrace and defeat were atoned by committing
hara-kiri or seppuku. Upon the death of a daimyo
loyal followers might show their grief and affection for their master by
it. Other reasons a samurai committed seppuku were: to show contempt for
an enemy; to protest against injustice, as a means to get their lord to
reconsider an unwise or unworthy action and as a means to save others.

The ritual for disembowelment was to be performed
calmly and without flinching. If condemned to death, it was held to be
a privilege to execute the sentence on one's own body rather than to be
a disgrace and die at the hands of the public headsman.

The location of an officially ordered seppuku
ceremony was very important. Often the ritual was performed at the temple
(but not Shinto shrines), in the garden or
villas, and inside homes. The size of the area available was also important,
as it was prescribed precisely for samurai of high rank.

All the matters relating to the act was carefully
prescribed and carried out in the most meticulous manner. The most conspicuous
participant, other than the victim, was the kaishaku (kie-shah-kuu),
or assistant, who was responsible for cutting off the victim's head after
he had sliced his abdomen open. The was generally a close friend or associate
of the condemned.

Although suicide is deplored in Japan today,
it does not have the sinful overtones that are common in the west. People
still kill themselves for failed businesses, involvement in love triangles,
or even failing school examinations, death is still considered by many as
better than dishonour.

Article: Suicide: still an honourable end?

Suicide: still an honorable end?
By: Michael March

Suicide in Japan has almost always been met with compassion. Since the first recorded suicide of a bushi, or warrior, in 1156, suicide has been viewed as an honorable act in which past indiscretions or failures have been met with sympathy, and viewed as a selfless sign of fearlessness. The latest spate of suicides, however, surely must raise questions about the 'nobility' of modern-day sacrifices.

The suicide last Thursday of a former vice president of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, is but one instance and follows a long procession of suicides by top business executives over several years who have failed to adequately deal with an ever-worsening economic climate. When the economy continued to dive headlong into deeper recession in 1996, more than 470 Japanese business executives chose suicide, a disturbing trend amid a stagnant economy.

Having been questioned by Tokyo prosecutors about allegations that he had worked the books, Takashi Uehara, the former head of accounting at LTCB, checked into a Tokyo hotel room then hanged himself., according to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan's largest daily newspapers.

A day after the death of the LTCB executive in Mie, Fujiwara Prefecture, a 47-year-old member of the Mie municipal assembly, depressed over dropping 10 places from his 3rd place ranking in the previous election, strangled himself with a seatbelt in his car. Despondent over what he considered a disappointing result, reports said, the assemblyman ended his life.

But as the assemblyman's case shows, and how it has been for many years now, it is not only a faltering economy that causes people to end their own life. Problems in one's personal life, personal setbacks and an inability to deal with disappointment in many areas seems sufficient to end life voluntarily.

Last week also saw the suicide of Tatsuyuki Aoki, 32, a drummer with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, one of the country's most popular alternative bands. The drummer threw himself in front of a train, according to the Yomiuri. Apparently, Aoki had personal problems.

As unemployment levels increase, surpassing almost monthly previous records thought unimaginable only a decade ago, and as the economic downturn sheds more workers, the situation may take an even more dramatic turn.

The latest figures show, since 1996, the number of Japanese committing suicide has risen from 23,104 to 27,102 in less than two years, an astonishing rise of more than 15 per cent. Japan now has one of the highest suicide rates in the world at 17.2 per 100,000 people, while the United States, with more than twice the population, has a rate of 12 per 100,000.

Yet, a report by the Yomiuri last week also shows a new and more disturbing trend. It showed child suicides in 1998 nearly doubled figures from the year before. In total, 74 suicides were committed by people under the age of 18, up 34 from the previous year. Of the 74, 29 were female while 45 were male. Thirty-seven were not enrolled in school. Clearly, pressures felt by high-school students and school leavers are reaching critical levels.

With the latest Labor Ministry figures showing less than 50 per cent of colleges graduates are finding employment, young Japanese will face even more demanding times.

Samurai once believed in 'Better death than life without honour,' without loyalty. Japan faces an uncertain future and with it major concerns. But with so many other Japanese facing the same hurdles, is suicide still the 'honourable' option?

Youth suicide league

Suicide helplines in Japan

There's an excellent study about suicide in Japan by Maurice Pinguet entitled "Voluntary Death in Japan" (original in French, I've read it in German, below there's some info by Amazon)

Interesting topic I bet coming up.

I've never really thought about but I bet that suicide no longer is so honorable. It tends to be way to keep your family out of serious generation spanning debt, an exit from school related stress, and a way to avoid being shamed by scandal. Of course, the unkown factor is here like any where else in the world.

Jumpers, who decide to commit suicide now have to realize that if they stop a subway line for hours will have to have their surving family pay for the time a line is stopped. I've heard that a jumper can rack up charges close to $500,000. Well, I've heard of a family being really charged that much but it's a smart Urban Legend to spread since it's a pretty good deterant.

Also, the city of Sapporo has mirrors on the wall closest to where the trains roll in. That way the jumper has a last second chance to see their own face before the jump.
@ Costs of suicide

I've read somewhere that each minute a train is stopped because of a suicide costs about US$ 50.000 in lost ticket sale. It's actually very likely that any transportation company will sue the surviving family to recover the lost revenue, it's an ordinary civil case.
I never heard of the families having to pay for lost revenue etc. I think that is so cruel!!
I must enquire if it's the same here. Also, I really don't think so, and I really hope not.
I have to agree with you, Debs, it sounds very cruel and tactless. On the other hand, such suicides do happen all too frequently and cause huge traffic problems with hundreds of thousands of people stuck at stations, getting late to work for hours etc. etc., the economic aspect of such tragedies can't be neglected.

The act of suicide is also an accusation and a signal to society. The more people involved the stronger the signal.
It's cruel, but it japan it makes sense.

If a jumper is going to cause [meiwaku] trouble, then the fines are to instill in the jumper that they're going to cause [meiwaku] they're going to cause [meiwaku] for their family too.

This might prevent some suicides though, so horrible it may seem it does make some sense.
Here is the states, under certain circumstances, they have done the same thing. There was a jumper in New York and Chicago who's family was charged for damage to the city, personal items (car was landed on), and revenue for buses and trains not being able to run.

This is a fairly good deturant. Also in Los Angeles, the brother of a man was charged with first degree murder. He supplied the gun that was used to comitt suicide. When the person took is life, the bullet went through his head and struck a lady behind him. Killing her instantly. This made a bold statement and hasn't happened since.
Wow, haven't heard those stories yet.

yeah, If somebody used my gun to off themselves is one thing but adding another to the picture is scary.

thank goodness I doN't have a gun :) I want a katakana though ;)
Originally posted by samuraitora
Also in Los Angeles, the brother of a man was charged with first degree murder. He supplied the gun that was used to comitt suicide. When the person took is life, the bullet went through his head and struck a lady behind him. Killing her instantly. This made a bold statement and hasn't happened since.
In that particular case, what exactly was considered to be murder? Participating in his brother's suicide by providing a gun or the accidental killing of the lady? I know nothing about U.S. criminal law, but from a legal point of view both cases do not seem to qualify as murder (without knowing any specific details).
With the accidental killing of the lady, they can charge the brother for being an accomplice with a person committing manslaughter. That [involuntary manslaughter] would probably be the murder case. A stretch, but it's possible and either way, he should be in trouble.
I can only talk from a (Central-) European perspective:

the brother is definitely accomplice in manslaugther in the lady's case (I think that manslaugther is involuntary as a matter of principle, 'willful manslaugther' is murder); as for providing the gun: most European criminal codes stipulate special legal provisions for assisting someone in committing suicide on certain conditions (strong physical pressure etc.). If these conditions aren't given, it's considered to be murder.

Well, it's been a long time since I have studied criminal law, forgive me any legal misconceptions.
"Classical waiwai" on suicide:

Paying for suicide costs more

"Committing suicide carries the ultimate cost -- life. But just in case anyone thinks that taking their own lives would be an easy way out, perhaps a little deeper thought is called for. In addition to the grief, heartbreak and emotional burdens that come with suicide comes a very hefty price tag."

ghosts ....

Even if it isn't suicide ... a death in a house, apartment is the death of that building too ...

ghosts ....
Japanese youth challenge suicide taboo

When Chiako Matsumura's father killed himself, her family instructed her not to tell anyone the truth about his death. "My relatives told me to tell everyone my father had died in a car accident," she wrote in an essay published when she turned 21 and which appeared last month in a book relating similar stories about parental suicide.

She had kept the secret hidden for almost seven years, a period she describes as painful. In truth, Chiako was as much a victim of Japan's decade-long recession as was her father, one of thousands who killed themselves because they were deep in debt or had lost their jobs.

These factors have in fact been pushing up the number of suicides in Japan in recent years. The rising rates of suicides, in fact, is matched only by the climbing unemployment rate, which stands at 5.4 per cent - 11.2 per cent of them middle-aged men.

Japanese youth challenge suicide taboo
By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO - When Chiako Matsumura's father killed himself, her family instructed her not to tell anyone the truth about his death. "My relatives told me to tell everyone my father had died in a car accident," she wrote in an essay published when she turned 21 and which appeared last month in a book relating similar stories about parental suicide.

She had kept the secret hidden for almost seven years, a period she describes as painful. In truth, Chieko was as much a victim of Japan's decade-long recession as was her father, one of the thousands who killed themselves because they were deep in debt or had lost their jobs.

These factors have in fact been pushing up the number of suicides in Japan in recent years. The rising rates of suicides, in fact, is matched only by the climbing unemployment rate, which stands at 5.4 per cent - 11.2 per cent of them middle-aged men.

But apart from facing the loss of their parents, Japanese youngsters have to deal with the shame attached to suicide - which many cannot talk about openly.

"These children face a double blow when their fathers die," says Yukichi Okazaki, spokesman for Ashinaga, a non-profit organization set up in 1988 to support children of parents who have committed suicide. "They have to deal with their mental trauma - and are forced to hide it - as well as financial hardship, as their fathers were the only breadwinners in the family," says Okazaki. Ashinaga counsels more than 4,000 such children and provides them with financial and mental support. Scholarships are extended to high-school and university students.

"Speaking about suicide is a social taboo in Japan. People tend to hide a family suicide because they feel ashamed about it," says Okazaki.

Still, the popularity of a collection of essays by children who lost their parents to suicide is a sign that society may slowly be facing up to the issue. The booklet I Couldn't Admit It Was Suicide, released in October, was written by the children and wives of men who have committed suicide.

According to researchers, 100,000 children lost a parent to suicide last year. Surveys also indicate that on average about 27 children lose a parent to suicide every day - a rate 8.5 times as high as in 2001. Social experts say Japanese males are the most vulnerable to suicide in a culture where they are expected to take financial responsibility for their families and not show emotion, even when they are having huge problems.

"Acute changes after the economic recession have put enormous pressure on middle-aged men who can no longer be assured of their jobs ... the situation is grave," says Yukio Saito, head of Inochi no Denwa, a telephone hotline set up by the East Japan Railway Co. The company operates the Chuo Line, notorious as one of the areas in the capital where many have committed suicide. Saito says, "These men cannot talk openly about their faults even to their families."

Experts point out that the cold response by corporations to the problems and uncertain future faced by their staff, who often have devoted most of their adult lives to the company, makes the situation worse.

East Japan Railway Co, which has erected small shrines on some of its train platforms for people who have jumped off platforms to their death, started its help hotline two years ago.

"Japan has a tendency to put a lid on dark issues," says Saito. It does not help, he adds, that there if often a lack of support from the family and the neighbourhood.

Take the story of Kazuhiro Yamaguchi, who was 13 years old when he found his father dead in a car. The elder Yamaguchi had committed suicide by letting carbon monoxide from his car engine fill his vehicle.

"I still feel I could have done something to save him. I have terrible bouts of guilt," says the university student.

Peer counselling under a program by Ashinaga helped Yamazaki deal with his suffering. Hundreds of youth attend the summer camps he went to, and there they gather with similar victims, finding solace in the sharing of their stories.

"I couldn't stop my tears when I recalled the suicide of my father with my other friends. For the first time, I could cry openly and share my pain," says Matsumura.

According to Okazaki, subsidies from the government for fatherless families are piecemeal and mothers work two or three jobs to make ends meet.

"If the father was employed in a big company, there could be a pension. But small companies do not offer any financial help, which means there is a growing underlayer of poverty even in a rich country like Japan," he explains.

Recently some large companies have begun offering mental-health counselling to their employees to help them deal with stress, but the programs are not well patronized.

"The most pressing concern in Japan is to encourage people to talk openly about their pain. Counselling is not catching up because of the stigma against it," says Okakazi. Still, he adds: "There is deep concern among ordinary people for the sadness of the survivors. With the ongoing recession, there is a growing awareness of the risk of suicide. We must get people to talk openly."
Japanese Teen Suicide

I won't quote any statistics here, for they are easy to find on the web if interested, but I have heard that teen suicide is very much still rampant in Japan. My wife once explained to me that from early childhood Japanese people are conditioned to gear their life towards passing the college entrance exams. More pressure is put on the males of this society, and even more, put upon the first-born male.

As we all know, life throws many curveballs along the way, and those of us with even minor challenges may very well find ourselves struggling as the college entrance exams come to bear down upon us. Family and peer pressures can seem insurmountable to many of us. Test anxiety is at an extreme, and any hope for an honourable and prolific future weighs in the balance.

Then on the day, the results are received, those who did not make the cut are left disgraced by the family and the rest of society. This is a tremendous weight to bear for any young person with their whole life ahead of them.

Many just can't take it. And they believe that the honourable way out is to commit suicide. This is an ancient conceptuality and tradition that sadly still exists to this day in Japanese society.

My response is that this part of Japanese society needs some major revisions, and our children need not feel disgrace in failure, but come to some acceptance of the honour in learning from it. I can only hope that they may find the determination to prove themselves through non-traditional means, perhaps including entrepreneurial endeavours.

When speaking on topics of suicide, we must come to admit our own failures. People only take such actions when they feel there is no way out. In the "Art Of War," written by Sun Tzu, we learn never to back a Tiger into a corner. And all of our young people should be perceived as Tigers. Let's give them a way out!!! Shall we?
need some hard facts

it's interesting to hear you guys talk about the japanese government charging families the costs of train delays due to suicides. i tried to find some hard facts or articles discussing the matter, but all i could come up with was the classic waiwai [the parody portion of a net magazine]. if anyone can find some sound sources, please email them to me soon! i'm considering writing a philosophy paper on the matter (questioning whether punishment can be justified merely by its deterrent effects), and wondering if it's really true. thanks!
Hmmm, in our Japanology course, we learned that the suicide rate in japan ain't really higher than in other countries. It seems to be higher because it is dealt with differently with it like talked about it on the news, while it's not talked about at all in Germany.
I think the third (or fourth, I'm not sure) reason for the death of a youth in Germany is suicide. But since it never talked about, no one knows.
They have the denial thing down to a science. It's shameful for the world to know of such statistics. Japan has no idea of how the world views japanese men as chauvenistic and perverted.
Or they want to deny that too.
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