Saving 10,000: Winning a War on Suicide in Japan

Saving 10,000: Winning a War on Suicide in Japan

2013, Society  -   48 Comments
Ratings: 8.79/10 from 169 users.

When you call a suicide helpline in Japan you may have to dial that number 30 or 40 times, because the lines are so busy. A lot of people have a lot of problems, but nobody to talk to, nobody to listen, and they say "Please God, someone answer the phone."

I dream of a war, a war on suicide, but I don't even know who is the enemy. Who is it, what is it, that's killing so many of us? One million people in the world every year, 30,000 lives lost in Japan alone. I don't know what I'm doing, I just know I have to do something.

In Japan nobody dares to talk about the causes of suicide or how to fight them, but manuals teaching you how to kill yourself sell over a million copies. What if 10,000 lives could be saved in Japan? Not by miracles but by ideas, by honesty. Would anybody dare to listen? If death is darkness this is about life, this is about trying to take back life from the jaws of death; this is about choosing hope over despair, even when you're desperately hanging on by your fingernails.

300,000 Japanese people have killed themselves in the last 10 years. That's around the population of Iceland. The Japanese suicide rate is twice that of America, three times that of Thailand, nine times higher than Greece, and twelve times higher than the Philippines. Is that something acceptable, or is it time we start to fight back?

The suicide rate is high in Japan because killing themselves is maybe always in the back of their minds. When they face a serious problem they have to make some certain choices, and one of the alternate choices that they make is suicide.

One of the features of suicide in Japan is the weakness of people to suggestion. Look at how often Japanese people try to find others to die with, others who share the same despair. So they will search online to find each other, and they make plans to die together. There are lots of Japanese who do this. The feeling behind this behavior is that it seems more reassuring and safe to be with others, even though everybody is going to die. Why are the Japanese so vulnerable to the power of suggestion?

There are no samurai left in Japan today, there are no kamikaze pilots either. All that remains is a feeling that suicide can be beautiful. The suicidal tendency among Japanese authors has been extremely high, and if you just list them, going through the decades there are many who took their lives. And the pattern is totally out of shape with the rest of the world. There is nowhere else where the suicide of novelists is so prevalent.

What makes a suicide hotspot become a famous location for suicide? In the case of Tojimbo cliffs, there was the local author Jun Takami. He wrote a book "From the Edge of Death." Death is always a bestseller and it made a tourist attraction. For Cape Ashizuri, there's the author Torahiko Tamiya. His novel was also made into movie. It made the Cape a popular spot for suicide.

Directed by: Rene Duignan

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1 year ago

Learn the truth. LIFE is sacred. Bring in contraception. Educate everyone especially children this

4 years ago

The topic is good but this man is very patronising and condescending. There is no real explanation as to who the interviewers are, the facts are vague, his stories are generalised and he's always yelling.

Nam Ho
5 years ago

Thank you for posting this.

6 years ago

Sometimes suicide is the result of fully grokking ( to understand in fullness, profoundly and intuitively) the actual reality of life as it appears. Not having the choice whether to be born into a world where every life form survives and prospers by exploiting and destroying other life forms often in very horrific ways. That we ourselves have been the cause of uncountable death so we can masticate and deficate a mountain of corpses. That there is no proof of any meaning to life other than that mad and violent struggle to stay alive. And that humanity in general lives in denial of these truths. Some humans upon realizing this in it's fullness, after feeling compassion and empathy feel despair knowing this may just go on for all eternity. At least they may be able to end their suffering.

7 years ago

Our world has turned too competitive, too isolating, not adequately loving, nature has been desecrated and it is no surprise that people are not happy. The direction this world has gone is not good. It is no wonder people prefer to not be here.

8 years ago

This dude keeps saying stop promoting suicide to make money of the views and yet it's exactly what he's doing from an opposite angle. Everyone has a right to take their own life if life becomes a torment that goes on for decades. This guy taunts poor people who chose to take their own life; sometimes there is no other option. I personally never attempted suicide neither I am considering it right know; however I totally understand why one would consider it if life becomes unbearable.

9 years ago

Came across this in a search to understand Japanese suicide after earlier today right in the middle of a busy afternoon at Osaka Station, I saw a lady jump to her death from the rooftop park :( so sad.

9 years ago

The propensity for suicide should not shock many who become familiar with the unique Japanese culture from movies or interactive video games. Harakiri or kamikaze are but alternative Japanese words for suicide that follow the warrior code of Bushido.

Kimberly Stuver-Klaassen
9 years ago

Sad, but interesting. Could have done without the screaming guy, though.

9 years ago

In the name of PROFITS, there will be no cure. The higher the suicide rates the more medication will be sold to help with the condition, maybe.

9 years ago

has been generalized and many times is badly understood, he is plain wrong when
he says that nobody kills themselves in a right state of mind, or that suicide
always comes from mental illness, I am a psychologist and have seen cases of
very intelligent and sane people killing themselves. On the other
hand, it is tough for some people to realize that the “perfect” world that they
would like to believe we live in is really not that beautiful for others. In
China, the amount of suicides borders 300,000 not in 10 years…but in 1 year
alone (that is staggering). Moving away from suffering is our strongest instinct,
you see, if a system tells you that by gaining material things you will be
happy, that when you become popular and recognized you will be happy, but then
you find yourself further and further away from that happiness, using the same
example of the video, if someone reaches an amount of debt that makes us
believe that this happiness becomes impossible, that we are trapped…that
maximizes suffering. Yes some people off themselves when they fall in that area
of depression and suffering, but others may kill themselves just by noticing/analyzing
our human greed, violence potential, irresponsible reproduction, world
destruction, etc and project it to a grim future. In general I agree with the
author that people should be more empathetic with others instead of being filled
by this enormous human indifference. But is that too much to ask from humans?

9 years ago

I've done lots of different research on Japanese culture and traditions. And the thing that ALWAYS stands out point 1 to me is that they are one of the worlds most consuming of seafood with high levels of mercury. I suggest that these people are becoming susceptible to high amounts of mercury poison, and with other natural disasters who knows what other forms of poisoning. It would rot the brain and make them depressed to the point of suicide. Of course this isn't proven, but that's always the thing that stands out the most over everything else.

10 years ago

The narrator was direct and to the point, as well as passionate. He wasn't reading a bedtime story, he was emotional and showing his disgust as to how the japanese society and system helps no one!!

10 years ago

the guy narrating made me want to kill my self.

10 years ago

This story is shocking and tragic. The prevailing mindset of the media and the government are driven by greed and self-interest. It is compounded by a cultural pride to present oneself in a particular way. Unfortunately, this cultural image is unhealthy and supports living a false life, not in keeping with living an inner truth.

Fear, ridicule, looking bad, and losing status have snuffed out the very will to live. How to rekindle this inner fire, this love for life, this sense of self-worth, this integrity, this sense of purpose, meaning and direction? So many have lost their way in this regard. I was one of them. I was lost in thinking my value was based on what I owned and who I knew. I was miserable and had moments of wanting to end it all.

My way back to living an authentic life began when I met a man, Marshall Vian Summers. He is a spiritual teacher and much, much more. His book, Steps to Knowledge, and his teachings recalibrated my life were instrumental in me finding my inner compass. It literally changed my life, brought things into focus for me and made me whole. Through his work I discovered and experienced that we are
spiritual beings and to live a life without this awareness is to live a hollow life. Japan and its people need to find their inner compass and their courage to rise up against this suffocating oppression. May it be so.

Wini Cyut
10 years ago

People commit suicide for a variety of reasons. We should do our part to try and help those people who suicidal. If there are some people as 'indiana' suggests, who are not depressed, but has made a rational decision to die, then so be it. But I doubt there are many of them. Japan's problem is quite unique. I suspect tackling the suicide problem pose a threat to Japan's highly competitive and conformist society. Perhaps Japanese leaders see suicide as an 'acceptable' way society rids itself of weak members. A kind of 'survival for the fittest'. At the end of the day, it is really sad that the second richest country in the world has the highest suicide rate.

10 years ago

You ppl who made the documentary clearly are not able to grasp the mind of a suicidal the way...there are rational suicides think there are only people who kill themselves from desperation..well you are wrong again..the reasons can be from a range of emotions to a total lack of emotion....and there is one more very wrong statement: "suicide is always wrong"...this in fact is wrong.
The only way to understand the concept of suicide is to feel the need for suicide yourselves for at least 20 times in your life.

Nada nada
10 years ago

My country Brazil has 50000+ homicides per year (Japan has about a thousand or so.) About a million homeless kids in the street (didn't see a single child beggar in Japan yet.) Which one is more alarming? I mean, one thing is having health care and safety net to the poor (I know this because I've been living in Japan for almost 2 decades) and yet you got bored to get along or tackle whatever your problem might be so you decide to take your own life, other is to be born in absolute poverty and be killed or starve to death in the streets. Gimme a break...
PS. For the record, suicide rate is fairly high in Brazil too (and I suspect pretty much anywhere else,) but it is almost insignificant a problem compared to other social issues. Japan has the luxury to preoccupy on that. As the saying goes: to forget a problem, bring a bigger one.

10 years ago

this means there will be no sushi in 'heaven'???depressing,as kebap will be out too....not quite kosher for my likings !!

John Murgaš
10 years ago

I posted this on Facebook and people thought I was thinking of killing my self by watching this

It's a big problem, specially when society promotes it! We should find out where the problem starts and move away from it, this system has been dehumanized for centuries.

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10 years ago

Every society inures its citizens with certain beliefs. If those include a belief that suicide can be an honourable, even beautiful solution to a problem, it becomes a self evident truth and a cultural meme that is almost impossible to change. The westernisation of Japan has led to an ongoing transition of Japanese perceptions. For me the question is whether or not our cultural legacy should be imposed on other societies. In general, my feeling is that it should not.

10 years ago

while in other places suicide is seen as a negative thing in japan suicide is a honourable thing...and it being part of the culture for centuries. from samurai' seppuku to banzai chage & kamikaze attacks during WW2...

if they are happy committing suicide, i say let them be...

10 years ago

Suicide in Japan is not look at as a bad thing. In fact, it's the bravest thing ANYBODY could do. With that, if a person wants to end their life for whatever reason, then a person should be able to do it.

10 years ago

I would only say in response to your comments that "the burden of proof" would be on anyone that assumes that an individual needs an "advocate for the right to choose" as if that "right" does not already exist.

10 years ago

It seems worth asking what is the basis for the premise that we need to stop people from doing what is their choice to do. Obviously any choices made in life are influenced by our current mental state which in many cases may change if givin the chance. It seems to me one of lifes most basic rights is to make our own choices for ourselves. Suicide is in most cases the hardest on the family members left behind but that does not negate the individuals responsibility to weigh those factors and make their own decision.