The Recent Epidemic of Hydrogen Sulfide Suicides in Japan and the Recent Comments by Matsumoto of the Manzai Comedy Pair “Downtown”

May 13, 2008

First a bit about the hydrogen sulfide suicides… I don’t really want to get into details, but in a nutshell, there are two readily available products for the home that you can easily buy which, when mixed together, produce enough hydrogen sulfide to kill people.

Recently, there have been so many suicides using this method that internet providers have been asked to voluntarily censor any of their homepages which make reference to suicides or how to properly mix the two ingredients.

On a radio show recently (the Japanese transcript may be found here) Well known comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto from “Downtown” made some comments about this recent news and the media’s role in the recent spate of suicides carried out this way. His comments are very big news on blogs and bulletin boards in Japan.

Some of the things he said on the radio show for which there were lots of support and criticism on the internet bulletin boards and blogs here:

“The media doesn’t have to do that, making a big deal out of it, saying how many incidents there were today, they should just stop reporting that kind of news.”

“Those guys (that want to commit suicide) are lonely. I know a lot of people who want to die. That kind of news just feeds the fire.”

Personally, I think it’s time that the suicides are reported with a little more passion. The issue needs to come out into the open. Japan had the 9th highest suicide rate in the world in 2006, despite being a very developed, rich nation. (I wonder if “despite” is even the right word.)

Japan dedicated about 220 million dollars for anti-suicide programs hoping to cut suicides by 20 percent. To be honest I have seen nothing in schools or public offices or on tv which would indicate how these funds are being used. You’d think there’d at least be a few tv commercials that say, “I know you’re thinking about it, but don’t do it… there’s always something good coming around the corner.” I’ve also mentioned on this blog before that it is very hard to find good psychological counseling in Japan, and the whole thing is much more taboo than in the states, but there is definitely a need for counseling to be in the open and socially acceptable here.

Besides the suicides, think about the number of murders that happen in Japan because the murderer “was hoping to get the death penalty” and so they “didn’t care who” they killed. More suicidal tendencies.

Over 50 people killed themselves using hydrogen sulfide gas IN APRIL ALONE! The numbers seem to be in the hundreds already so Japan may be on its way to a 20% increase instead. Hopefully the government will figure out that the best way to handle this is not to hide information about how to commit suicide, or get angry at companies that make toilet cleaners, but to look deeper into the source of this epidemic. There’s got to be a way to improve “emotional” living conditions in Japan.

I just read that a man in Kobe climbed into a giant industrial trashbag on the side of the road here and killed himself this way (supposedly so as not to endanger as many people as he would if he had done it in an apartment building which would cause evacuations and things… of course doing it on the road endangers people who walk by him or discover him.)
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