The announcement of David Bowie’s passing certainly came as a terrible shock, but perhaps just as shocking is the news of one Japanese fan’s attempted suicide in response to the star’s death.
Self-driving cars are getting closer and closer to becoming a reality, While there will always be those who prefer the freedom of driving themselves, the technology seems like it could have some serious advantages for public transportation. In the case of a bus, for instance, it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to program the vehicle’s software to travel along a fixed route and stop at the predetermined bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers.
But while self-driving buses may one day become safer and more efficient than human operated ones, they’re a lot less likely to heroically prevent roadside suicides, as this bus driver in China just did.
While Japan is famous for its animation, food, pop-culture, it’s also infamous for its extremely high suicide rates. Many Japanese students and salarymen succumb to the pressures of school and work by taking their own lives. There is little knowledge about what factors increase the risk of suicide, but recent research has found that people, namely adolescents, born between January 1 and April 1, are 30 percent more likely to commit suicide.
Though summer vacation is a lot shorter in Japan than it is in the U.S., most tudents here aren’t exactly itching to go back to school once it’s done. Even worse, since it falls in the middle of the Japanese school year, the end of summer break is also the start of the second, and more demanding, semester.
Needless to say, a lot of kids would rather blow off school and kick back with a good manga, which is exactly what one library in Japan is encouraging them to do. The reason, however, is far more important than just finding out what happens to their favorite fictional characters .
It’s no secret that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. There are even popular “suicide spots” within Japan where many people go every year to end their lives. One such area is Tojinbo in Fukui Prefecture, where the tall seaside cliffs overlook the ocean, and as many as 100 people every year choose to fall to their deaths.
However that number has been declining in recent years, thanks to Yukio Shige, a 70-year-old retired police officer. He has made it his personal duty to patrol the area and talk to anyone who looks like they may want to jump over the cliffs, and he’s saved over 500 lives in the 11 years he’s been acting as personal seaside lifeguard.
And now he has a new role: the star of the movie that’s being made about his life.
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.