Monday, December 3, 2012

Suicides in Japan

reposted from March 18, 2010

 Wikipedia has the following report:
Suicide has never been criminalized in Japan. Japanese society's attitude toward suicide has been termed "tolerant", and on many occasions a suicide is seen as a morally responsible action. However, the rise of Internet suicide websites and increasing rate of suicide pacts (shinjū) has raised concern from the public and media, which consider the pacts "thoughtless"

Public discussion of the high rate of suicide focuses on blaming the economic hardship faced by middle-aged men. In addition, increase in Internet use (particularly the suicide websites) is partially blamed for the increase in suicide in recent years
During Japan's imperial years, suicide was common within the military. This included kamikaze, kaiten and suicide when a battle is lost.

And this, also from Wiki about Seppuku, the formal name for hari kari.

Seppuku as judicial punishment was officially abolished in 1873, shortly after the Meiji Restoration, but voluntary seppuku did not completely die out. Dozens of people are known to have committed seppuku since then, including some military men who committed suicide in 1895 as a protest against the return of a conquered territory to China; by General Nogi and his wife on the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912; and by numerous soldiers and civilians who chose to die rather than surrender at the end of World War II.
In 1970, famed author Yukio Mishima and one of his followers committed public seppuku at the Japan Self-Defense Forces headquarters after an unsuccessful attempt to incite the armed forces to stage a coup d'état. Mishima committed seppuku in the office of General Kanetoshi Mashita. His second, a 25-year-old named Masakatsu Morita, tried three times to ritually behead Mishima but failed; his head was finally severed by Hiroyasu Koga. Morita then attempted to commit seppuku himself. Although his own cuts were too shallow to be fatal, he gave the signal and he too was beheaded by Koga.

All of this is in response to AztecRed's one word comment earlier today. Whenever we discuss gun suicides in the U.S., you can be sure the pro-gun crowd will bring up Japan.

It would be hard to find a worse comparison. Totally lacking in American culture is the honorable notion of suicide which has always been so prevalent in Japan. Completely missing are the samurai warriors and the kamakaze pilots, the centuries of art and literature that elevate the act of suicide to something absolutely foreign to Americans.

So, please, stop with the comparisons to Japan every time we mention suicide. I ask this out of respect for common sense and logical thinking, and in spite of what Sebastian explained, I have nothing to offer in return.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. Japanese theme today? No, logic and the facts are on our side, Mikeb. How the culture sees suicide is interesting, but irrelevant to the question. I bring up Japan because suicide happens there more frequently than here, and yet, Japan has strict gun control. In other words, the method used is not the important question.

    You constantly bring up gun availability, but guns aren't available in Japan. The people continue to kill themselves with abandon. A gun is a tool, but there are many tools. If you were right, despite the cultural acceptance of suicide, people would have a hard time going through with it in Japan due to the lack of guns.

    When you stop going on about how keeping guns around makes more suicides happen, I'll stop bringing up suicide in Japan.

    1. The method used is important. If Japan were suddenly flooded with guns and their availability was high, the number of suicides would skyrocket. I don't expect you to agree to that. It requires a bit of thinking and open-mindedness.

    2. No, your bias against guns leads you to that conclusion. Your inability to open your mind is what prevents you from admitting that the tool isn't what causes the suicide.

      See how easy that is? Without evidence, anything can be claimed. But I've shown you evidence from various countries that suggests that suicide isn't tied to the available method. Japan has a rate much higher than ours, while Canada and Ireland have rates about the same as that of the United States. Guns aren't widely available in Japan or Ireland, and they're heavily restricted in Canada. If gun availability were a factor, there should be a significant difference in the rates of the three Western nations.

    3. In my view, at least, if you're going to commit suicide, your going to commit suicide. It doesn't matter whether you have a knife, a gun, or just your bare hands- if you want to die you're going to die. Guns, admittedly, make it easier for those who are mistaken in their lack of a will to live to kill themselves, but you can't blame guns for suicide. So, in conclusion, I don't think it's accurate to say that 'the number of suicides would skyrocket'.

    4. Alan, don't you acknowledge that some people who attempt suicide are not that determined but are only suffering from a temporary depression?

    5. "Guns, admittedly, make it easier for those who are mistaken in their lack of a will to live to kill themselves"

  2. "The people continue to kill themselves with abandon."

    You're a moron. Every time you make a statement like that it just proves how insensitive and stupid you truly are.

    It takes an extremely strong act of will to kill oneself--especially if it's done with something that requires the suicide to suffer for a period of time prior to dying. Putting a gun to your own head and pulling the trigger requires tremendous courage or an absolute lack of self-worth. Killing oneself with a knife, poison, drowning, hanging or any of a number of other methods requires far more effort and inflicts much more pain and suffering than a bullet to the brain.

    Dying by suicide is still considered--among a large part of the japanese population--to be more honorable than a number of other outcomes for one who has been disgraced, huniliated or defeated. I feel that they are wrong in that assessment but I'm not them. I don't have their history, nor do I have their cultural traditions.

    The japanese do not place the emphasis on mental healthcare that the U.S. does. This link:
    is to a recent article in the Japan Times which touches on some of the differences between the levels, style and method of mental healthcare in Japan--it is not a good situation. Like U.S. residents, many japanese feel that admitting to having mental health/emotional problems indicates that one is a failure. Despite having a far more nuanced approach to mental healthcare, the U.S. experienced over 38,000 suicides in 2011. So, Americans also, "continue to kill themselves with abandon.", I guess. It's a pity that westerners place so little value on human life.

    He doesn't seem to know "jack" about mental healthcare, but then again, Greggie has never been shy about his view of mental health practitioners being unqualified to do their jobs.

    Greggie says:

    "When you stop going on about how keeping guns around makes more suicides happen, I'll stop bringing up suicide in Japan."

    Well, Greggie, when you stop making callous, uninformed and stupid comments about a subject that you seem to know little about--and care even less about--I'll stop reminding you of the fact that you're a moron.

    1. Why does your side feel the need to post long screeds of information that we all already know or that are irrelevant to the discussion? The point is that suicide rates and gun control laws have no correlation whatsoever. Canada and Ireland, two nations with cultures and attitudes about suicide similar to our own, have rates close to ours, and yet, their gun laws are far more restrictive. Japan's gun laws are among the strictest in the world.

      The claim made by your side is that if only we restricted guns, we'd have fewer suicides. That can't be supported by evidence. So you fall back on emotionalism and insults. No surprise there.

    2. It is argued that the State bears the obligation to protect the lives and property of of its subjects, and that the regulation of small arms as fundamental to such a goal. Even if alternative methods are used to end human life, the State still carries the obligation to restrict access to any commonly utilized method of killing.

    3. Subjects, E.N.? You be a subject. I'm a citizen.

    4. I guess that it lacks the mental capacity to make a valid point, instead resorting to the bastion of the logically challenged; semantics.

    5. E.N., you're both an arsehole and an ignoramus--a dangerous combination. Let's consider the errors in your reply:

      1. Pronoun error--Human beings are referred to as he or she, not it, unless we're talking about young children, and even that is going out of favor.

      2. Semicolon error--I don't know what you're trying to do with that mark of punctuation, but you certainly used the semicolon incorrectly.

      3. Diction error--semantics, as you're using it, refers to quibbles over small differences in the meaning of words. The difference between "subject" and "citizen" is significant. You know that to be the case, since your social philosophy is based on the idea that human beings must submit to their governments.

      Beyond that, you've yet to provide a good reason for adopting your view of humanity, but I'll at least grant you that your school of thought is philosophically legitimate, if morally repugnant.

    6. First off, Democommie- aside from your obvious attempt to antagonize the more conservative members on this blog by means of your username, you don't have to be an asshole. It's just not needed.

      I would also argue that suicide requires a lack of will- it's giving up on life because the going got tough. It's a waste of a valuable human life, one that could be better spent on other things.

      And E.N., where does it end? Do you outlaw cars because people can crash them? Sinks because people can drown themselves in them? Alcohol because people can die of alcohol poisoning? What about rope and kitchen knives? And if you get rid of those, do you get rid of glasses because people can break and use them instead? Where does the child-proofing of the world end? Every living being encounters risk in order to create something, and depressed people can use such risks to end their own lives, as sad as it may be.

    7. Firearms are devices proliferated for the manifest purpose of destruction. None of your outrageous examples (except for some pointed knives) lend themselves only to such a use.

      Cops aren't murdered with cars,

      Soldiers aren't shot with ropes,

      and revolutions aren't armed with eyeglasses.

  3. Does a woman have the right to do what she wants with her body?

    orlin sellers

    1. There is no realistic concept of "individual rights".

      Roe v. Wade sets the precedent that a government subject to the Constitution of the United States cannot outlaw abortions, or impose restrictive measures which would serve to achieve such a prohibition.

    2. No realistic concept of individual rights? Here's one: I have the right to do to, for, and with myself anything that I want to do, so long as I don't harm another innocent person.

  4. You don’t want to talk about Japan? Ok, want to talk about Hungary? Do the Hungarians have a culture that promotes suicide? Or the French? Belgium? How about Finland? Why do they kill themselves at such a higher rate than the United States? Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovakia, Sweden, German, Romania, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, Norway- All with higher rates than the USA. Are you going to explain all those away, Mike?

    Note what these have in common. These are all countries that you guys taut with your “gun death” metric to “prove” how gun control works.

  5. It would be hard to find a worse comparison. Totally lacking in Japanese culture is the honorable notion of murder which has always been so prevalent in American gang culture. Completely missing are the turf killings, the payback killings, the initiation killings, the anti-snitching killings, that elevate the act of murder to something absolutely foreign to the Japanese.

    See that?

    When it is convenient for you, you blame the tool. When it is not, you blame the culture. Why isn’t it our “culture of killing” that is the real problem?

    1. No, what's lacking in the murder comparison, is gun availability. Same with the UK, which enjoys 4 times less murders than we do.

    2. Because the numbers in the U.K. and the U.S. are both so low, any difference in one is many times the other. But as always, why are the rates in Puerto Rico, Russia, and South Africa so high? Those three have strict gun control. Why is the rate in the Czech Republic so low? The Czechs have guns.

    3. But mike, you reject the gun availability part when you want to blame the culture instead. You just did with Japan. What you can't come to terms with is that the USA has a low suicide rate on the global scale. Our homicide rate is high (but only after removing the poor countries from the comparison), but not the suicide rate. There are only a handful of countries in western Europe that have a lower suicide rate than ours. Italy, Spain, Greece, and the UK. That's it (going off memory, so maybe I missed one). The rest are equal to or higher.