BBC News has posted a report on what it calls Japan's internet 'suicide clubs', coincidentally also the title of a Japanese film I almost rented yesterday. This movie, and a glut of others in a similiar vein; 'Suicide Circle', 'Suicide Manual' etc probably rode in on the sensationalist wave of controversy surrounding the publication of the book mentioned in the BBC article.

Author Wataru Tsurumi's 'Kanzen Jisatsu Manyuaru' (The Complete Manual of Suicide) was originally published in 1993 and has been a constant presence in the Japanese bestseller lists since. It is now in it's 83rd edition. Here's an excerpt from the author's introduction:

'The truth is, life is dull and repetitive. As Yukio Mishima wrote in Confessions of a Mask, "Everyday life is more dreadful than war." By doing the same thing over and over, we slowly lose the feeling of being truly alive. Eventually, we can't even tell if we are alive or dead.

Your life probably follows the conventional path. You go to elementary school in your hometown, learn the lists of historical figures, memorize your English words. You study hard after class so that you can get into the right high school, and then the right college. After spending four pointless years in college, you join a corporation. If you are a man, you marry in your late twenties and have a kid the next year. You get promoted or transferred a few times, maybe even become a manager. When you turn sixty, you retire and spend the last ten or twenty years of your life enjoying something or other. Then you die. There are no true happy endings like you see on television. Nothing we do will change any of this; we are all powerless. What is the point of life?

...I do not mean to incite people to kill themselves, but people need to know that there is an alternative. If you're bored, if you're sick of school or work, you have another option. If you want to live, fine - live as you please. And if you want to die, that's fine, too - go ahead and commit suicide. Nobody can stop you.'

I'm not convinced that 'If you're bored' is a sound reason for killing yourself, but what do I know. Well, I now know several ways to facilitate an exit from this mortal coil;

'Jumping in front of a train

Choose a local station where an express train passes without stopping - a slow train may not be lethal. If you jump when an approaching train is about 100 meters away, it will be too late for the train to stop and too late for anyone to try to rescue you. Jump down onto the tracks, lie across them, and wait for the train to hit you.

Parts of your body - your arms, legs, and stomach - will be cut off on impact. You will probably die instantly. If some of your clothes get tangled under the train, you may be dragged for a while. Various parts of your body will be scattered over several hundred meters.


Letting yourself freeze to death seems to be as pleasurable as hanging or jumping from a building. You need to have guts to do this, but the process is almost painless. Your body typically does not suffer major damage.

Make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast and choose a very cold night. You need to prepare your body so that you will freeze quickly. Take off all your clothes, wet your body with cold water, turn on an air conditioner or fan, and open every window in the house. You should be hungry and tired. To accelerate the death process, drink alcohol as well; it expands the blood vessels and reduces body temperature. Just be patient until you fall asleep.

Jumping from high places

Jumping from high places is not painful at all. There's rarely any anxiety or fear. In fact, according to the accounts of suicide survivors, the fall can be quite pleasurable.

If you want to jump from a building, you need to inspect in advance the ground where you will land. Try to pick a building surrounded by concrete. Make sure, especially, that the area is clear of shrubbery: one sixteen-year-old girl who jumped from the fifth floor of her school survived her suicide attempt because she landed on a bush.

It's important as well to know the height of the building. The main reason so many of these suicides fail is that people don't jump from high enough. To ensure death, you need a fall of at least twenty meters. Remember that one floor equals about three meters. So in a typical apartment building, you should jump from the seventh or eighth floor.

Jumping from a cliff is less certain. The cliff may look deadly, but you might fall into the ocean and survive. So think about choosing a spot known for successful suicides. For cliffs, Ashizurimisaki on Shikoku Island and Nishiki-gaura in Atami are the best choices. For waterfalls, try Kegon-no-taki in Nikko.

As for buildings, the best-known is the Takashima-Daira apartment complex outside of Tokyo. This site became famous in 1977, when a family of three jumped from the roof of one of the buildings. That led to a suicide boom: at one point, someone jumped from the building every three days. In 1981, the complex installed iron fences around the roof and set up a suicide hot line, which drastically reduced the number of suicide attempts there. However, if you want to jump from this spot, it can still be done. Building number 3-11-1 is easy to enter and has low fences. It's fourteen floors high and surrounded by hard concrete; a fall is lethal. To get there, take the Mita-line to the Shin-Takashima-Daira station. Turn left toward 4-Chome. The building you want is the one facing the railway track.'

How would you even go about researching the relative effectiveness of each method? I dread to imagine the contents of the book's publisher's mailbag although due to it's obvious success I assume letters from satifsfied readers are fairly scarce.

Last year 34,427 people took their own lives in Japan, a significant wedge of the more than 1,000,000 suicides recorded worldwide (that's more deaths from suicide than war fatalities in 2004). Indeed Japan is oft cited as having the largest suicide rate of any country in the world but this is not actually true. According to the World Health Orginization the country in which you're most likely to be attending funerals and asking yourself 'Why?' is in fact Lithuania - a country that apparently also has a large proportion of alcoholics.

I didn't rent 'Suicide Club' and I don't think I will. The fictional depictions of the self-inflicted deaths of those too overwhelmed, unhappy or 'bored' to live presented as entertainment now seems almost as pointless as those 1,000,000 deaths probably were. Although quite how I tally this particular spot of moralising with my obvious love of Ichi the Killer is a contradiction I need to work out for myself.


Anonymous 匿名 reckons...

i find that your feelings are well presented and relevant to whatever you may have thought 'suicide club' would have entailed..
however i have watched that movie.. yes, out of sheer curiosity, and i was pleasantly (more or less) surprised...
perhaps the director of that particular movie and yourself have the same opinions in mind...

(although i did find the movie to be gratutitously gory...
but i suppose that was to give a clear direction towards to ultimate sublimal message...)

3:49 午後 JST  


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