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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