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Suicides can run up a posthumous bundle

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Japan's National Police Agency compiles an extensive database of suicides. While impossible to obtain data retroactively from a deceased person, investigators conduct interviews with family members, acquaintances and co-workers to piece together what factors most likely contributed to cause a suicide. In 2007, for example, health problems were seen as the main cause in 15,867 cases, more than half the national total. This was followed by economic problems, with 8,377; family problems, 4,117; difficulties at the workplace, 2,528; casualties in the war between the sexes, 1,121; and school-related troubles, 364.

According to statistics, the top three methods for males were hanging, asphyxiation using CO2 and jumping from a high place. For females, they were hanging, jumping and drowning.

Contributing to a special report on Japan's taboos in Jitsuwa Knuckles (January), journalist Tetsuya Shibui probes the costs associated with committing suicide. From the evidence assembled, readers can conclude that while suicide may be painless, it's certainly not cheap. Particularly for family members one leaves behind.

First, take the various costs related to disposal of your corpse. If a person does not expire in a hospital, the public coroner must issue a death certificate, which generally comes to around 50,000 yen. If it is determined that a forensic autopsy is required, then depending on the location, the cost will range from 50,000 to 300,000 yen. With the exception of Kanagawa Prefecture, where the family of the deceased may be billed, this will be borne by the local government.

Embalming for a funeral generally runs from 150,000 to 200,000 yen, which will be added to the charges for cremation.

In the case of child suicides resulting from school bullying, the victim's family may decide to file a lawsuit against their child's tormentors. In one previous case, the out of court settlement came to 25 million yen. Litigation tends to be drawn out, however, and it's difficult to generalize about the amount of compensation, because courts may seek testimony about the mental state of the person prior to his or her suicide. And if the accused bully is still a minor it is possible his or her age will be factored into the judgment.

For people who jump in front of a train, the railway company may demand damages from the deceased's next of kin for interruption of service, depending on the time of day and how long the service was halted. This figure appears to be in several hundreds of thousands of yen. In one accident involving a suicide in which the driver halted his car at a Shinkansen crossing and waited for the inevitable, the demand is said to have come to 140 million yen.

A suicide that takes place in a rented apartment can affect the property's future rental value, and many landlords will demand that the deceased family make up any shortfall. If the flat is kept vacant for several months afterwards, the family may be expected to continue paying the rent. Owning a residence outright does not necessarily ensure a solution: a stipulation in the real estate law requires potential buyers be informed for up to seven years that the former owner of the property had committed suicide therein.

So then: is seeking oblivion in the remote hills a thriftier way to make one's exit? Quite the contrary. Organizing a search team to hunt for a missing person can cost several tens of thousands of yen per day. And if a search helicopter is required, costs can easily run over 1 million yen. What's more, searchers or rescuers may be injured or killed while trying to retrieve the corpse, which are likely to result in claims for compensation.

Writer Shibui also notes that botched suicide attempts may outnumber successful suicides by a factor of 10 -- perhaps as many as 300,000 per year. And, he warns, in worst cases the person may be left with permanent, crippling damage requiring constant nursing care.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Might as well live!

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Suicide causes death. I would not pay anyone squat if a relative did it in. Money grubbers. They do not give a crap about the death, but only money money money.

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the driver halted his car at a Shinkansen crossing

My understanding was that there were no Shinkansen crossings - that Shinkansen lines either went over or under roads, not across them.

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Yeah, me too, Mark. I kinda scratched my head at that. But maybe there's one I don't know of...

Suicides always cost grief, monetary and emotional. Not to sound uncaring of a person's pain, but these are things to think about before you go taking your life. Your family will have to suffer your loss most importantly, but also your bills. That's perhaps why so many people find it such a selfish act.

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My understanding was that there were no Shinkansen crossings - that Shinkansen lines either went over or under roads, not across them.

Yeah, I noticed that too. But there is a mini-Shinkansen that runs to Yamagata that uses regular tracks for some sectors, maybe that was the one.

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a stipulation in the real estate law requires potential buyers be informed for up to seven years that the former owner of the property had committed suicide therein.

Wow! What is the point of that law? Do vengeful suicide ghosts only hang around for 7 years or something? I'm surprised it's legal to tell how the owner died at all, what with privacy laws surrounding medical issues, etc.

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According to statistics, the top three methods for males were hanging, asphyxiation using CO2 and jumping from a high place.

Are you sure that's not CO vice CO2?

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I'm surprised it's legal to tell how the owner died at all, what with privacy laws surrounding medical issues, etc.

When I was hunting for a mansion, we ended up in one of those tower mansions. My real estate agent did mention that the flat we were seeing was suspected of a double-suicide (husband and wife) a few years ago.

He also mentioned that although real estate agents are obliged by law to tell their customers whether a suicide has taken place or not, it was very difficult to get such information since landlords usually do not reveal it. The reason being it causes a significant decrease in the price. In this case, my agent had found out about it through his own research and contacts in the business.

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Might as well live!

Why? The person who commits the suicide is not the one who pays the bill.

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so they can demand payment for damages, but is it absolutely required for the family of the suicide victim to pay? Is there a law that clearly states this? If I were a family member of a suicide victim and JR sends me a bill, I'll tell them to shove off.

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How many of them are murders made to look like suicides?

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140 million yen

Holy Crap. Don't jump. If some one jumps in front of a train from your family, I would highly recommend that the whole family line up and do it too.

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How many of them are murders made to look like suicides?

I suppose that's a valid question, but are you implying that there are many?

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Are you sure that's not CO vice CO2?

Carbon monoxide will poison you (even if you have fresh air restored, the accumulated CO in your body could still kill you hours later), while Carbon dioxide will just asphyxiate you (take the plastic bag off your head and you should be fine in a short while). CO deaths are usually accidents: using a hibachi indoors can do it.

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CarbontetraCL can kill you too over the long term

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Wow, it costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars! Hundreds!

Seriously, it's not all that much except for the fact that their relatives are often poor. You know, people who think hundreds of dollars is a lot for dying.

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The grieving family should not be penalised due to the suicide of a family member. Things happen and businesses should take this into account. Train companies and Landlords asking for compensation should be made illegal and stiff penalties handed out. Money second, morals firts please. What do you think, nigel,zenny, and Ossan?

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CO deaths are usually accidents: using a hibachi indoors can do it.

Not here, they're not. They're frequently used here for just that purpose...which is the reason I ask.

"Asphyxiation using CO2" is also a weird way to describe killing yourself with a plastic bag if that's what the sentence is referring to.

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so they can demand payment for damages, but is it absolutely required for the family of the suicide victim to pay? Is there a law that clearly states this? If I were a family member of a suicide victim and JR sends me a bill, I'll tell them to shove off.

Agreed. I would like to know if they can really collect.

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Not sure if there is a law that they can collect.

But they do hassle the families a lot and strongly.

Granted not a suicide but when my wife died her landlord and Hospital tried to hit me for unpaid portions, granted as I was visiting her often, looking after son, etc.

At that time we hadn't gotten in touch with her mother(which was out of contact for 38yrs).

At that time we were divorced and I told them to stick it, granted paid a few minor bills. Might be different if we were still married and they couldn't collect from our 9yr old son.

In the end some fees were covered as she was on social welfare, as for the rest ....

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Suicides cost the nation in lost productivity and must be stopped. I think hitting families up with a monster penalty will deter many suicides. Make it clear that the person is going to impoverish their family if they do it.

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People don't commit suicide as some sort of hobby or fashion. It takes a lot of serious problems for someone to do the act. I cannot think of anything worse than hassling a deceased family for cash in any form whether the death was by suicide or other ways.

Zenny, i think it shows with your sad situation that there can be a lack of compassion regarding relatives. There seems to be a lack of empathy with other people in Japanese society, especially those who need understanding. Maybe it is something they can teach at school, but i doubt it.

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stevecpfc.

Sorta agree. For them it is business mostly and unpaid bills are a loss.

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In 2007, for example, health problems were seen as the main cause in 15,867 cases,

I personally knew one of those. He was in his late 60s, and was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer that had spread through his lymphatic system. He was given six weeks.

Rather than a drawn out, painful death in hospital, he decided to end his life on his own terms. He got his affairs in order, made sure everyone was taken care of, and left the way he wanted to. Good on him, I say.

To put his death into the frame of this article - his choice to end his own life saved his estate quite a lot of money that was passed on to his widow and kids. A few hundred bucks for the coroner, vs ... how much for four weeks of hospital stay, drugs to keep the pain away, and a couple of futile attempts at surgery to coax out another week or two of bedridden slow death?

For some people, it's about quality of life, not quantity. Considering that over half of the suicides in this country are health related, it might be worth exploring the attitudes of that majority towards their own deaths, and if we're going to talk about the cost of suicide, we should also be talking about the cost of end of life care.

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In Japan, everything turns into business...even the most painful of situations...sad...

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I think that someone who has chosen suicide obviously is far and beyond feeling anything for what they will leave behind for others. When you are that far gone......I mean if you felt anything any more, you would surely find a reason to live beyond cold hard cash which is often the cause of many suicides.

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