New information has emerged about the tragic incident that occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen line earlier this week. In what appears to be a case of suicide via self-immolation, two have died — the elderly man who lit himself on fire and a middle-aged woman who was accidentally caught up in the incident.
Japan Railways’ high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains have, since their inception, been famous for their timely arrivals and paramount safety. But that record was marred today by a self-immolation suicide that claimed the lives of two people on board a train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka.
Even though Japan may not have the highest suicide rate in the world, unfortunately it’s still quite common. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Japan, and the most popular place to commit suicide in the world, Aokigahara Forest, is located in Japan as well.
The Japanese National Police Agency and Cabinet Office recently released statistics on the suicides that occurred in 2014, and while they’re continuing the downward trend of the past five years, they’re still quite high compared to other countries.
Picture the scene: You’re out late one night, waiting to catch your train home. Finally it rolls up to the platform, its front window caved in, cracks spider-webbing through the glass. That’s when you hear the announcement: due to a human-involved accident, operations have been suspended.
You know what’s happened. But how do you react? Do you gape in shock? Do you find it too upsetting to even look at and avert your eyes?
Or maybe you whip out that phone of yours to snap a picture, just like this group of onlookers at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
It’s hard to imagine the thought process of people contemplating suicide, which makes it equally hard to convince someone not to once they become determined to do so.
Obviously there are many reasons why committing suicide would be the wrong choice in any situation, but here’s a coldly practical one: The odds are against you succeeding. According to the Center for Disease Control, for every one successful suicide attempt, there are twenty-five that fail. While that might seem like an encouraging statistic, there are still the after-effects to those who live on. For example, an incident that unfolded in China involving a couple looking to end it all serves as a reminder that things can get much, much worse.
Komabatodamae Station was the scene of a bizarre suicide yesterday as two men who seemingly had nothing to do with each other took their own lives by leaping in front of the same train.
At around noon on 11 August, an express train struck and killed the men after they jumped into its path about 20 meters apart.
Live in urban Japan long enough and, as shocking as it sounds, you’re eventually going to have the distinctly unpleasant experience of riding a train that hits and more than likely kills a human being.
Even if you aren’t experiencing it firsthand, walking into a Tokyo train station only to notice yet another train delay caused by what is euphemistically described as a “bodily accident” (jinshin jiko, or 人身事故) is at least a weekly occurrence. It’s enough to make you think Japan must be wrestling with one hell of a suicide problem.
Which is true. But it’s not quite as bad as the Western media would have you believe. Here are five facts about suicide in Japan that are about as uplifting as we have any right to expect from facts about suicide:
The Japanese government recently released its 2014 white paper on suicide in the nation. While the continuing downward trend in the number of people taking their own lives is encouraging, the statistics also revealed the sobering and troubling fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among Japanese aged 15 to 34.
An investigation into the suicide of a police officer in a Tokyo police station has found that harassment from a superior contributed to his death. While the chief is now facing disciplinary action, it has again highlighted the problem of abuses of authority in Japanese workplaces, also known as ‘power harassment’, or pawahara in Japanese.
In Japan, places where people have died are considered bad luck, so unsurprisingly apartments where there has been a suicide, murder, or other death are rented at much cheaper prices than usual due to a lack of demand. However, real estate agencies are seeing a surge in people specifically seeking these kinds of ‘death rooms’. That may sound horribly morbid, but usually it’s not out of a desire to be close to death. Rather, for those who can put aside their culturally-ingrained reservations, it’s a way to save money during tough times.
Apple’s virtual assistant Siri can be a lot of fun when you have free time and the battery power to spare. You could flirt with her, ask her trivia questions, or find the best place to hide a dead body.
For one Japanese Twitter user, however, a fun chat with Siri got really dark really quick. In their words: “I was screwing around with Siri and I randomly said ‘I want to die.’ Her answer was so unexpected that I put the chain lock on my door at the speed of sound.”
A friend of mine once shared an image with me of the product recommendations section from Amazon.com, which showed a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 paired with a bulk pack of adult daipers. Apart from shut-ins who would rather soil themselves than leave their military-based shooter and go to the bathroom, it’s hard to imagine why Amazon’s super computers would suggest that the two products were a perfect match.
An equally odd product pairing appearing on Amazon JP caught the attention of Japanese netizens earlier today, but rather than giving them a good chuckle it has quite freaked them out.
Members of the Korean media have come under fire this week after they filmed a man who warned via his Twitter account that he would jump from Mapo Bridge-a known suicide spot-and made good on his promise.
There staff on the scene made no effort to intervene and have been arrested as accomplices to the man’s suicide.
On Thursday this week at around 3:30 P.M., a rail employee in Nagoya City was struck and injured… by the body of a suicidal customer.
Hold on, let’s rewind a bit.
As part of efforts by Kobe City to prevent suicides, a number of huge posters (each measuring 2.1 by 1.35 metres), have been set up on local subway platforms at Sannomiya Station, in Kobe’s Central Ward. While some have commended the effort, it seems that the crowds of commuters aren’t all on board with the somewhat depressing content, as the move has been generating a lot of criticism from the public.
Japan often gets a reputation as a suicide-heavy nation but the social problem of self-destruction is something all parts of the world have to tackle.
The following is a list of five places in the world where suicides have most often occurred. It’s a bittersweet honor in that they are all either places of extreme natural beauty of impressive feats of engineering.
On the other hand, they are also places and countries that clearly do too little to prevent either the mental illness that leads to suicide of the act itself.
At approximately 3:30 p.m. yesterday, all trains on Japan Rail’s Yamanote line came to a sudden halt. The words jinshin jiko could be heard echoing through stations across Tokyo as announcements rang out explaining that service on the Yamanote line had been suspended and that other routes may suffer delays as a result.
Jinshin jiko literally means “human body accident”, and is a vague phrase used to communicate that someone may have been injured or killed as a result of a traffic accident. Very often, however, it means that someone has thrown themselves in front of a train.
Sadly, this is far from an unusual occurrence, and, as horrendous a sight it must be for anyone to witness, people have become used to hearing of these “accidents” on Tokyo’s train lines. However, photographs uploaded to Twitter by Japanese commuters yesterday have left many speechless and evoke feelings of pity for the driver of the train in particular, who will undoubtedly be left emotionally scarred by the incident.
The following images do not contain scenes of blood and gore, but some readers may find them disturbing.
With Tibetans continuing to set themselves ablaze in protest of oppressive rule by Chinese authorities, state media for Qinghai province reported that the government of the province’s Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture announced it would begin offering rewards of 200,000 yuan (about US$32,000) by December 27 to anyone at the scene who can prevent such suicides from occurring.