[Air-l] Japanese suicide reference

Yukari Seko yukaseko at yorku.ca
Wed Jan 17 23:02:17 PST 2007

Dear Dr. Chris,

I cannot help but replying you since it is the very topic I am currently working
on for my master's thesis!!

Since the first online suicide was "scooped" by Mainichi news paper in December
2002, several group suicides have been reported by the media and gradually
known as "Net Shinju (Net Group Suicide)"
The biggest case was happened in October 2004 in which 7 people who only met on
a suicide-related discussion board took their life together.

The followings are English article featuring on the incident;

Since I used to work with the journalist Tetsuya Shibui reported in these
articles, I personally knew some of those who committed online suicides through
him. Shibui's ethnographical works on Net group suicide are (albeit
journalistic) the best resources for this issue. Unfortunately, English
translation of his books are yet unavailable, but I'm using the followings for
my thesis by translating them;

Shibui, T. (2005). Net Group Suicide: Why "Maria" Chose to Die.
--------(2004). Net Group Suicide. Tokyo;NHK publications

However, I personally disagree with the perspective that online suicide appears
to be "a frightening increase in the number of group suicides arranged over the
Internet through chat rooms dedicated to discussing suicide."  Apparently
vigorous documentations in the media have informed suicidal people a less
violent way of killing themselves (death of carbon monoxide with charcoal
burners) and brought several copy-cat cases, but in some occasions, the same
online interactions help suicidal people to change their mind. This type of
grass-roots support is something absent from their offline life. Although the
number of online suicides is quite small, suicide-related websites are
increasingly removed from webspace. The growing regulation of suicidal
discourses in Japanese cyberspace is what I want to investigate in next few

Hope it helps,

Yukari Seko

M.A. candidate
Joint Programme in Communication and Culture Studies
Between York/Ryerson Universities
Comcult GSA Webmaster (York)
yukaseko at yorku.ca

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