Suicide in news nishikie

The ultimate fashion statement

Suicide is usually committed alone but is rarely a solitary act. This ultimate form of homicide almost always has an impact on the living which exceeds that of other causes of death, even murder. And practically all individual suicides are stylized in ways that betray or suggest an intent to affect others.

In murder followed by suicide, the rage required to kill oneself, even in what might appear to be a quiet manner, is vented on others first. In a suicide pact, the anguish, frustration, anxiety, discontent, or hopelessness felt about live is shared by those who embrace death together.

News nishikie portray a wide variety of solitary suicides, murder-suicides, suicide pacts, and acts of following-in-death -- but instances of prevention or rescue -- with remarkable candor and objectivity.


Suicide themes



Single suicides

Few suicides are truly single or passive. Many solitary suicides are acts of "autoplastic aggression" in which the individual kills oneself in order to gain attention and change feelings -- make someone feel guilty (I hope you are happy with your new girlfriend), protest one's innocence (You are wrong about me), seek forgiveness (This is how sorry I am for what I have done or am unable to do), persuade others to act (This is how much I despise this war).

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A virtuous maiden falls on a knife on account of her stepmother's avarice.

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A man feigns suicide at a temple graveyard using fake blood as a ploy to persuade a courtesan to marry him.

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A man who has married an emancipated prostitute attempts to kill himself when she goes back to work to support him and his elderly mother.

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A reluctant bride suffers at the railings of a bridge in Osaka.

ONgS 14

A 17-year-old girl jumps from a bridge and drowns.


Following in death

The desire to be with a person one loves who has died is universal. The person can be a lover, spouse, child, friend, respected leader, worshipped hero -- even a favorite pet. Grief is relieved, and fear of death overcome, by the promise of reunion in the next world.

Death sometimes sets in motion a series of suicides as one person after another dies. Suicide contagions hit families, schools, and communities of fans and followers.

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Widow kills child and self to follow husband executed for joining Saga Rebellion.

NS 6

A sick mother drowns herself, and her daughter attempts to follow her but is rescued. The same story is reported in ONS 254.

ONS 254

A sick mother drowns herself, and her daughter attempts to follow her but is rescued. The same story is reported in NS 6.


Suicide pacts

A suicide pact is an explicit agreement between two or more competent individuals to die together. The intent is more important than the agency of death -- the parties may commit suicide simultaneously or in succession, or one person may assist in the suicides or the others, or may outright kill the others before taking one's own life.

Under Tokugawa and Meiji law, as in Japan and most countries today, complicity in another person's death is treated as a form of homicide, and survivors of suicide pacts may face charges, a trial, and punishment.

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23-year-old actor Bando Mineji dies in suicide pact with Yamakoshi Kane, a 15-year-old teahouse employee.

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Lovers who have killed themselves are married after death by the families that rejected them.

YHS 647

Two foreign bank clerks, caught embezzling, shoot themselves aboard ship on which they were trying to escape.

ONgS 8

An Osaka couple walk half way across a small bridge on the Yodo river, undress, and leap into the water.



There are many kinds of murder-suicides, but all involve the killing of someone against their will or in the absence of their will, followed by the killer's suicide. Babies, young children, and adults in certain states of mind are considered unable to rationally agree to their own death.

Under Japanese law, as in other countries, a parent who survives a suicide attempt after killing their young offspring will generally be charged with homicide. Evidence of neglect or abuse of the offspring will be taken seriously. Also in Japan, as in many countries, and in some states in the United States, mitigating factors, such as post-partum depression or marital or economic stress, can result in a sentence commuted to a period of probation with psychiatric treatment.

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A policeman kills three woman and attempts to kill himself but is arrested.

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An Edo river boatman takes a razor to a prostitute and then himself.

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An adopted husband, rejected by his wife, writes a suicide note, torches the house, but can't take the heat, escapes, and is caught.

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A man kills his wife, three children, and himself.

TNS 1047

A man kills his wife, who he suspects has been having an affair, and then himself. The same story is reported in YHSNg 9.


A woman kills her husband's lover, serves him the woman's vulva as sashimi, then kills herself.


A man kills his wife, who he suspects has been having an affair, and then himself. The same story is reported in TNS 1047.


Suicide prevention

In no country in the world do people accept or encourage suicide. People naturally try to save the lives of those they think are about to kill themselves, or try to rescue those who have already already crossed the line between thought and action.

In Japan, suicide after the fact is seen as tragic. Before the fact it is viewed as something to be stopped. Many news nishikie depict acts of prevention and rescue.

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A passerby stops elopers from Niigata from jumping off a bridge in Osaka.

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Using a stolen sword, a shizoku kills a restaurateur's daughter on whom he has lavished all his money only to be jilted. A friend talks him into surrendering instead of disemboweling himself.


A sumo wrestler pulls a man off the railing of Ryogokubashi in Tokyo.

KCNgS 20

An officer saves a couple he spots jumping off a bridge in Osaka. The same story is reported in SZ 20.

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A man restrains a man and a woman who are trying to throw themselves off a bridge in Osaka.

SZ 20

A man and woman who have jumped off a bridge are rescued by and officer and resuscitated. The same story is reported in KCNgS 20.


A boatmen rescues a grandmother who threw herself and her granddaughter into a canal.


A policeman stops a mother from killing her child and herself.


Other suicide art

Suicide is a common theme in the art of other countries. The history of suicide in Mediterranean and European art goes back over two-and-a-half millennia. Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance sculptors and drawers commonly depicted famous suicides in history, myth, and literature. The Greco-Roman classics, the Bible, Shakespearean plays, and other sources have inspired hundreds of works of suicide art now in the collections of museums around the world. Suicide was also a common theme of engraved illustrations in books, including the Bible.

Ajax falling on his sword. Canace about the stab herself. The apotheosis of Herakles. Gaul slaying himself and his wife (though presumably he slayed her first). Phyramus falling on his sword thinking Thisbe his dead -- in a Pompeii frescoe anticipation of Romeo and Juliet. Phaedra contemplating suicide. Seneca cutting his veins. Cleopatra with her asp. Socrates (if you think his was suicide). Dido plunging a danger into her chest or on a funeral pyre. Judus hanging himself. The deaths of Saul and his armorbearer (the deaths of Mayowa and his vassal in the Kojiki could have come right out I Samuel 31:3-5). Chatterton. A wave of drawings showing Ophelia anguisihing over life, pausing at the waters edge, stepping in, floating in peace. (Brown 2001; Wetherall 1983)

Many illustrations in mid-19th century English newsprints show mostly girls and women jumping from bridges and buildings, and mostly men hanging, crucifying, or guillotining themselves. All prints make you feel as though you are witnessing the suicide, that you're walking toward a bridge and happen to look up when someone jumps, or walk into a room and find something hanging. (Gretton 1980)

Depictions of suicide in European art vary from heroic and romantic to utterly dark, as drawers impute their own and society's meanings to the behaviors they portray -- behaviors also found in Japanese art. After reading so many allegations that suicide is somehow culturally driven, what is most remarkable about artistic renditions in both Japan and Europe is the common range of elements -- situations and motives, settings and styles, despair and am bivalency, hesitation and resolve.

Yet when the deeper implications of the similarities register, then the commonalities of behavior are not so remarkable, but more like -- Of course, one has to expect the same human responses to the same human problems. And one begins to suspect that all the fuss over "cultural differences" arises out of concerns about something other than human behavior -- something that is also shared across societal boundaries, hence the commonality of quests for cultural differentiation. (WW)