Saturday, January 19, 2008
Japanese log on for group suicides By Hiroshi Osedo in Tokyo October 13, 2004 AUTHORITIES in Japan have been stunned by a dramatic increase in "Internet suicides" with nine young people dying yesterday. These bizarre suicide pacts were first noticed in 2002 with groups committing suicide, often in cars, after meeting via the Internet. Seven young people were found dead yesterday morning in a car parked at Minano town in Saitama Prefecture north of Tokyo. Four men and three women in their teens and 20s were in a station wagon wrapped in blue plastic sheets. Police believe they met through the Internet and committed a group suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning using four portable charcoal stoves found in the car. It was the nation's worst "netto shinju" (Net suicide) since the first such case was reported in October 2002. Hours earlier, two women, aged 27 and 21, were found dead in a car in Yokosuka city, 40km south of Tokyo. Police found two charcoal stoves and suicide notes in the vehicle. The latest deaths took the national toll to at least 59 people in 18 separate suicide pacts. With the exception of five people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in apartment rooms, all others were found dead in cars equipped with portable charcoal stoves. Most of them were in their 20s. They included college students, salarymen and unemployed people. More than half of them were men. The victims were usually strangers before they met through the Internet. Yamanashi University professor Kiyohiko Ikeda said those people "have found solace in finding someone similar to themselves through the Net, ready to join in their attempt to kill themselves". "They said they were too lonely to die alone." A 24-year-old man who died in western Tsu city on March 5 last year said in his note: "We don't know the reason why we want to die. We've got together to die peacefully." A collection of DVDs for a Net group suicide are available on the Internet for ¥3112 (AU$38, US$28). One website includes a poem by a person named R. Ueki which encourages group suicide:
Now, let's commit a pure group suicide.
You, meagre young people. There is no point for you to stick to your life.
Suicide is the only thing you can choose.
It's the last glorious seal you will be able to leave behind.
Japan's suicide rates are among the highest in the world. According to the National Police Agency, 34,427 people committed suicide in Japan in 2003. Officials have blamed a decade-long economic slump for an increasing number of people killing themselves.