The death of 'Terrace House' cast member Hana Kimura and Japan’s mental health struggles

By Hilary Keyes
Photo: Wrestling Superstars

On May 23, 2020, pro wrestler and former cast member of Japan’s hit reality TV series Terrace House, Hana Kimura (22), was found dead of apparent suicide. Suicide notes found in her home cited cyberbullying and countless cruel messages she had been receiving on social media.

The daughter of Kyoko Kimura, herself a pro wrestler and mixed martial artist, Hana Kimura had only just joined Stardom, one of Japan’s foremost all-women pro wrestling companies. Many wrestlers from across the world took to social media to share their grief and outrage over her passing.

No one will ever know with absolute certainty what Kimura was thinking in those moments, but it is clear from her social media accounts that she was struggling, and making clear cries for help. Though now deleted, Kimura uploaded photos of self-harm shortly before her last posts on Twitter and Instagram. These alarmed her followers enough that attempts were made to contact her, and may have led to the police being sent to her home.

It’s way too easy for people to take their frustrations out online at people they don’t know personally, but cyberbullying has real-world implications.

From her own posts and logs of her accounts, she was inundated with hundreds of hateful messages daily, many of which stemmed from an incident that took place between her and a fellow Terrace House castmate. A lot of the negative comments on Kimura’s Instagram and Twitter have since been deleted or lead to abandoned profiles. 

While cyberbullying is not currently a criminal offense in Japan, Kimura’s death has led Japan’s ruling party to consider new legislation. Fuji TV has also decided to terminate further episodes of the current series following the tragedy.

In addition to messages from fellow wrestlers, numerous celebrities addressed their followers, decrying the online trolls and pleading with people to think before they type. Even former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama took to his Twitter to call for harsh penalties for those who target individuals with severe online harassment.

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Never understood why suicide is the first option, instead of just blocking or closing social media accounts

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Never understood why suicide is the first option

Be glad you don’t understand.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Agree with Strangerland. Imagine jumping from a burning building. It's partly like that.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Sad, but I agree, I will never understand why someone would ever want to take their own life especially when they have everything going for them. Just boggles the mind.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japan’s mental health struggles

There's nothing particularly Japanese about this except the location. More than 30 "reality television" participants worldwide have died by suicide.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I've seen cyber bullying at work. It ugly in an insidious intrusive sort of way. I can only compare it to COVID 19. It's had enough for veteran debater. I can imagine how overwhelming if was for this innocent soul.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Those who don't understand suicide, nor mental health, I urge you to learn about anxiety, depression and suicide; these are all important problems that plague our lives in this day and age. We need to be more empathetic and knowledgable so we can offer support to those around us.

Bless Hana and all those who knew her. She was a delightful person to watch and carried herself with beaming confidence. Much love from New Zealand audiences.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Taila smithMay 31 08:51 pm JSTThose who don't understand suicide, nor mental health, I urge you to learn about anxiety, depression and suicide; these are all important problems that plague our lives in this day and age. We need to be more empathetic and knowledgable so we can offer support to those around us.

Bullying comes in so many forms, sometimes it's invisible o others. People who are bullied all the time sometimes get it from their own upbringing or unsympathetic parents. The worst part of it all is once a victim commits suicide you can't contact him/her and ask where did it all go wrong. It's too late.

It's more prevalent than you think. Even today in the US, more veterans who came from bad upbringings who return from these stupid secret wars are messed up in so many ways. Some of them are bullied and abused in the service too. They turn to substance abuse and some commit suicide and the giddy armchair warriors who cheered the reality TV shows that wars have become - they wring their hands and say, 'OMG'. America needs to THINK more. We all do.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sad to see Hana go out like this.

She was a great girl and she allowed a minor incident over a costume being damage by Kai get in the way of a wonderful and successful life.

I believe being lock down, living by herself, has contributed to her online focus on a small amount of negative comments about 100 a day, which she mentioned herself. In her last message she mentioned she wanted to be loved. Many more people loved her, cared about her, then the negative few comments magnified under isolation and living alone.

1.Laws should be passed against cyberbullying.

2.People who appear on TV if they deal with some kind of negative backlash should be provided with psychologist and a life coach at least for a several months after the show ends.

When you appear on a show you should be prepared for positive feedback but negative feedback as well. Only expecting support and kind words that's not the Internet of today sadly.
-2 ( +1 / -3 )

She is Japanese, my condolences. god bless her soul. But imagine the plight of a Singaporean Chinese who is widowed in japan facing daily iijime ???.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It's quite difficult to limit what people say online. Social media isn't really a good place for sensitive people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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