When I read the report on CNN.com on March 2009, “Desperate Japanese head to ‘suicide forest'”, I related the phenomenon as part of the existing Japanese psyche. In fact, I was reading the book, Bushido at that time and was on an impression that the news appeared in CNN.com/asia is not a new social issue to be discussed with much importance this year only.
For sure, the ever increasing rate of suicide is a social issue in Japan, which needs to be thoroughly analyzed and prevented. Some people in every country may commit suicide and the social and personal reasons behind those acts of self-killings changes according to the country. The last two years, we have enough reasons while reading the increased number of suicides.
I would like to recollect, some of my life experiences connected with the suicide in Japan. When I was waiting for the train in the morning to head towards the work place, I heard some strange announcements in Japanese language and on those days, the train comes too late, sometimes more than half an hour. Without knowing the actual reasons for the delay of trains, in order to reach the office I would choose to walk from the nearest exit of the station. As I could not understand the full meaning of the announcement in Japanese, some of my friends advised me to look into the display board where the message for the reason of delay will be displayed. If the kanji for personal accident is displayed, it might be a suicide case, and the train will be delayed more. Last year, I have walked at least 4 times as I have seen that message in the display board.
Every time I walk I used to remember the book ‘Bushido’ written by Inazo Nitobe-san. Suicide is institutionalized in Japan! Those institutionalized suicides known as Seppuku or Kappuku commonly called Hara-kiri were different from the ones happening now a days. Still the suicide rate in Japan is one of the highest in the world. For Japan, a country having almost everything to identify with a self pride, a country with the second strongest economy in the world, a country, which is a model to other nations on how to protect citizens rights, a country having a fairly good distribution of wealth system, suicide remains a scar, we need to agree.
I am not competitive at this stage to write analytical reasons behind this tendency of self killing. But one thing is sure that suicide is neither a matter of pride nor a way to escape from the personal defeats as observed in the Samurai period. In all countries, suicides happen, but when it happens more in a country like Japan, there may be reasons apart from merely economical as that mentioned in CNN.com/asia and it becomes a matter of concern.
It may not be the spirits walking around and turns the swords to their own proper entrails. There may be reasons that spread to the victim’s helplessness to deal with minute fluctuations in the external world that affect the internal world too. Education that focus on self manifestation, apart from simple school syllabus will help to a good extent to reinforce the positive life motivating elements in new generation. That will help to realize when the spirits start walking abroad and turns the sword to one’s own bowels.