New trend alert: suicide in Japan

November 12, 2007

Add Unwritten Law as soundtrack to anything, even the Japanese suicide epidemic, and it’s instantly cool. Remove it. And its instantly lame. Quiet a downer, actually.

Japan’s suicide rate has shot up since the mid-1990s to become one of the highest outside the former Soviet Union as the Japanese ideal of lifetime job security crumbled away amid years of recession.

The government said 32,155 people killed themselves last year, a decrease of 397 from the previous year. Japan’s suicide rate remains the ninth-highest in the world, the Cabinet Office report said, citing WHO data. (link)

This is why I don’t read the news. The media always tends to suck the rad out of awesome. Ever seen Jisatsu saakuru? Jim Jones has got nothing on Dezāto.

And it’s not just the media, the government, too, is trying to ruin the party.

The Government has published a “counter-suicide White Paper”, which sets out a nine-step plan to transform the way in which suicide is regarded and treated. Measures include training more counsellors and expanding Samaritans-style telephone helplines. (link)

Well at least when I’m by myself, the government ain’t messing with my Internet time. Where I can meet friends. Make plans to chill. And then hang out.

My only concern is that old and ugly people are going to start copying our thing. And suicide will quickly become passé.

In Japan suicide victims are mostly young adults. Among those 15–24 and 40–54 it is the second leading cause of death and in 25–39 year age group it is the leading cause of death. (link)

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7 Responses to “New trend alert: suicide in Japan”

  1. Baekho Says:

    Agree with you about Unwritten Law :)

    The footage there is from a Japanese flick called Suicide Club. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, it’s worth seeing. Highly surreal, and permeated with a strange sense of despair.

    I think this ties in nicely with your later post, about how money isn’t an adequate indication of wealth. Japan is one of the richest countries in the world, and it has such a high suicide rate?

    Some people try to play that off as being due to cultural differences (i.e. in Japanese culture suicide has different connotations than in America) but I think that’s crap. No doubt the tradition of seppuku, etc., plays a part, but I don’t think that’s the main reason at all. There’s a sense of despair that flows from the increased wealth and materialism. My guess that has more to do with the suicide rate.


  2. Baekho,

    I’ve seen and own “Suicide Club!” I actually linked to it on this post too. But my lame self was trying to sound all cool and stuff and referred to it by its Japanese name: Jisatsu saakuru.

    Your last paragraph is probably accurate. But I wouldn’t know. I have limited knowledge. I actually did believe that the Samurai honor suicide tradition played a part. But in retrospect, it’s a bit more clear that a booming economy contributing to never satisfying superficial needs likely fuels this trend a bit more.

  3. Baekho Says:

    Ah, for some reason I skipped the paragraph where you mentioned the movie’s title. D’oh! You’re not lame for using the Japanese title, but I certainly am for missing a whole paragraph of your entry! ;)

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m not an expert on Japan or Japanese culture, and I’m certain that the cultural attitude toward suicide plays a role in the suicide rate there. But my hunch here is that it’s not the major contributing factor. A person might harbor a certain cultural view toward suicide, but even so there’s gotta be an underlying cause or condition that drives them to it in the first place.


  4. Maybe relevant, maybe not, this article in the Times is interesting regardless. Do take a look:

    Japanese Slowly Shedding Their Misgivings About the Use of Painkilling Drugs

  5. Baekho Says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting….funny how relevant articles always seem to pop up, isn’t it? ;)


  6. The Church needs to send missionaries to Japan! People desperately need to hear the gospel of Jesus! Iesu-kirisuto is their only Source of hope! Come on, we need some Bible-believing churches to be planted all over Japan. Demons of suicide are sucking the life out of it!


  7. What about Buddha. You think he could help them. I mean you know since he is already in Japan.


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