Internet Group Suicide in Japan

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                                                                                                                        Internet Group Suicide

Every 15 minutes, somebody kill himself in Japan. (PanOrient News, 2011) Being one of the highest suicide rate countries, Japanese now commit suicide in a different way – Internet Group Suicide. People call together through Internet and plan to commit suicide. It is unique to Japan and is a peculiarly modern Japanese fashion.

In the very beginning, people try to explain this unique phenomenon by Emile Durkheim’s Suicide Theory and treat it as a kind of egoistic suicide. Yes, some factors inside the Internet Group Suicide are fit in to the Suicide Theory but this analysis is shallow. It is because it cannot explain reason that why only Japan has Group Suicide as other countries have even higher suicide rate than Japan.

To the eyes of other people, Japan has a strange traditionally culture and history about suicide such as Hara-kiri and Shinjyuu. (Ueno, 2005) Unique culture and history generate unique society. And social factors are playing an important role in suicide. Therefore any explanations about the Internet Group Suicide should be built around Japan’s unique culture and history.

Explanation in term of Suicide Theory

A step before committing suicide, suicide candidates will try to air their grievances and seeking help on Internet and reality. It can give enough social support to them.

Japan is defined as a shame society. (Benedict, 1946) Japanese feel shame when they do something wrong or cannot satisfy with the expectation of folk. This action is attributed to their high sensitivity and being eager for fame. The feeling of shame will become greater and being harmful to their fame when disgraceful affair is revealed. Also the Japan society regards seeking help as a sign of weakness. (Kingston, 2004) It can be revealed by the number of call for help to the suicide hot-line. Compare to 2.4 million calls received by the Samaritans in UK (Samaritans, 2009), there are only 0.7 million calls in Japan. (ABC news, 2009) Shame and weakness make a person’s life really hard. They are the obstacles to prevent suicide candidate to gain enough social support and weaken their will to live. They may choose Internet to express themselves as they can hide their identities.

Internet provides a convenient and efficient way for Japanese to communicate. It seems give more chances for them to build up social relationship and gain more social supports. Surprisingly, it is diametrically opposed. As people can freely express their feeling anonymously, they regard online communication as a way to release their pressure and deepest dark in heart. For example, if a suicide candidate says “I want to die.” inside a chat room on Internet, seldom he or she will receive prevention such as “Hold on, wait a minute.” The suicide candidate will soon be a spot for others to attack. They will say “You are a loser, get out of here.” Thus they are hard to get help. (Ueno, 2005)

Suicide candidates in Japan have low social integration in both real and cyber world. Therefore according to Suicide Theory, Internet Group Suicide is egoistic. However, the above explanation still cannot find out why Internet Group Suicide is so unique to Japan. There must be some factors other than social integration give rise to it.

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More Holistic Explanation

The Internet Suicide is largely related to Japanese’s view of suicide and view of death. These are generated by the socialization. Therefore the explanation should be based on Japan’s history, culture, religion, Performance of Notables and mass media as they are the important elements of socialization.

Suicide is very common in Japan’s history. Hara-kiri and Shinjyuu are two most popular way of suicide. Hara-kiri is a kind of suicide for the samurai (warriors) use only and is a social class bound privilege. They use it to prevent them from divulging information and ...

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