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Hokkaido schoolgirl commits suicide, blaming bullying

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A 13-year-old girl from Fushimi Junior High School in Sapporo committed suicide on Monday by jumping from the balcony of her 6th-floor apartment, police said Tuesday. Police said emergency services received a call at 8:30 a.m. from a girl believed to be a high school student saying, "I'm about to kill myself." She gave her address and hung up.

In a note the second grade girl left in the living room, she intimated that she had been suffering from bullying, police said. The girl's suicide note was written on 12 sheets of A5 paper and sealed in an envelope addressed to "whoever should find this." In it, the girl describes how she feels she was "ignored" in first grade and told she was "gross" by other students. It is believed that the girl wrote some of the names of her alleged harassers in the note.

The girl also expressed her embarrassment and reluctance to give speeches in front of her tormentors, specifically mentioning a forthcoming Japanese language class presentation that was scheduled for Monday.

A spokesman for her high school said, "It appears that bullying may have been at the root of this and we are looking into it."

At a press conference, school Principal Fumio Suzuki described the incident as "truly heartbreaking" and said that it had affected him deeply. "I failed to properly check for signs of bullying," he said.

On Nov 17, the principal responded to a citywide Board of Education questionnaire on bullying, stating that no girls at his school were being bullied. The school also carried out one-on-one life consultation sessions with students on Nov 19, at which no female students alluded to any specific issues regarding bullying.

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On Nov 17, the principal responded to a citywide Board of Education questionnaire on bullying, stating that no girls at his school were being bullied

So he was lying, or he is incompetent. Either case, he can not remain in his position.

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Does anyone reading think that finally, THIS time will be the final suicide that "may be" due to bullying???

I've been reading these kinds of articles for over 15 years, and it is almost always the same: 1) child is bullied. 2) child commits suicide 3) Teachers, Principal will "look into it"... ...next suicide...

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“I failed to properly check for signs of bullying,”

This is one sad situation after another. Continued excuse after excuse. What Japan should do is to start firing these teachers and administrators who are offenders. They are in a position to keep these children safe and they failed miserbly. They keep washing their hands and nothing is done in Japan. Time to put these people in jail. There is no end in sight and the Japan govenment has failed miserbly on protecting kids. Which child is next?

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There will definitely be more, and soon. These incidents tend to occur in batches. The tormented kids see the news coverage of a suicide brought on by bullying and come to the conclusion that it's the most effective way to turn against their own tormemtors -- the bullies, teachers, school, parents, etc.

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Well with just the information here (well translated by the way) I don't blame any teachers, much less the principle. The ones in the wrong are the bullies themselves and students around who failed to put an end to the bullying. They are the ones who need a good talking to.

A certain part of the "blame," if you will, must also fall upon the girl herself. Why did she feel the need to write 12 pages outlining her feelings? Is it possible not many knew, let alone the principle, of this girl's suffering? She may have been very poor at communicating, and not dealing well with unpleasant things said about her.

In sum, suicide is a cop out. And this person was not bogged down by financial distress. What she has done will go some way towards helping others in similar circumstances, but has caused tremendous pain for those closest to her. Shame on the bullies, and the students around who let it happen cos they were not strong enough, and it's a pity this girl was also not strong enough.

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Kids can be so cruel to one another.

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Wow

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tokyonovice - based on your writing, you really do not understand Japanese culture. According to the article, the school asked all female students if they were being bullied....

Japanese people are conditioned from an early age to "fit in". Fitting in however, is a moving target. Being the object of bullying, also, is something that is hard to admit. From the average Japanese person's point of view, the guilt/shame is on the bullied person, not the bully.

Have you ever noticed that most Japanese will refuse a gift 3 times before accepting? Asking a kid once about being bullied is just not effective (obviously).... but this is not likely to change anytime soon.

I find it interesting that in Japan, the victims of bullying will often try to bribe the bully with presents, gifts, food, etc. I believe the western way is to involve parents, teachers and therapists (and sometimes police).

I'd like to see research done on the bullies - what motivates them, etc. There must be cases where teachers/parents were able to make bullying stop. If this could be better understood, the methodology could be applied throughout Japanese schools. I believe that bullying (in its milder forms) is at the center of Japanese society - fit in, don't stand out, gaman, shouganai, etc., etc.

I have heard that one literal translation of "YOROSHIKU ONEGISHIMASU" is "Please be nice to me" - if this is true, could this be an indicator of a yet un-addressed cultural trait in Japan that tends to condone the essence of bullying?
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As sad as this story is, I tend to agree with tokyonovice. Can't really blame the teachers or principal if they knew nothing of it. Teachers can't be everywhere, nor see everything that goes on every minute of all the students lives. Nothing was mentioned about the parents knowing or contacting the school either. If the parents didn't know, it's hard to believe the school did either.

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The teachers bully the students by constantly ordering what to do all day and punishing them through public ridicule instead of inspiring them to be independent free thinkers and self motivated conscientious adults. They allow the classes to laugh at students if they make mistakes rather than positively encourage each other to fail forward. I believe that this contributes a lot to the problem. Its Japanese culture.

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Can't really blame the teachers or principal if they knew nothing of it.

According to many posts here and on other sites, there are lots and lots of cases where teachers DO witness this and yet do F.A.

Nothing will ever get done in Japan. And this doesn't just apply to bullying.

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based on your writing, you really do not understand Japanese culture...Have you ever noticed that most Japanese will refuse a gift 3 times before accepting?

You're right, I hadn't made the link between bullying and refusing a gift three times. Thanks for the cultural lesson.

I have heard that one literal translation of "YOROSHIKU ONEGISHIMASU" is "Please be nice to me" - if this is true, could this be an indicator of a yet un-addressed cultural trait in Japan that tends to condone the essence of bullying?

I suggest you get another translator or refrain from making generalisations from translations with no context.

My post was written to counter the first three gunning for the principle and the teachers. While there are things the teachers can do, those closer and around the student need to do more. Schools are working on fostering this and improvements, however measureable, are being made. You won't find this in your 1990 This is Japanese culture book though.

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I find it interesting that in Japan, the victims of bullying will often try to bribe the bully with presents, gifts, food, etc

KevininHawaii, I really don't think it's bribing on the part of the victim. It's more "get it for me or you're gonna get an ass kicking" on the part of the bully. It's so sad that children do things like this often. Only if the bullyee had the strenth to tell somebody or ask for help.

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This is a tragedy. Rest in Peace, poor girl. The thing is, all those kids in her grade who - allegedly - bullied her will attend her funeral, deeply bow and pretend to cry. Japanese schools MUST start educating kids about the evils of bullying - and how - despite the "culture" saying otherwise - it IS OK to be different.

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to those of you that think this is sad... wake up, it still goes on after high school. I see it almost daily and sometimes I step in and tell people to lay off that person with a quote like "grow up already, enough with the bullying. what do you think this is a school yard play ground?"

Some people actually stop and think but most were bullies in school so they just continue on. Perhaps we should start treating bullies like adults when they are caught in schools and make them pay for their actions. That may change them quickly if they are taught to respect others or deal with their consequences.

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It has been a grave problem in Japanese schools and this robotic society.

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It seems no matter how many children that commit suicide specifically saying that they did so because of bullying people in charge will keep making excuses.

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I believe the TV news this morning said that the girl stated she was not being bullied on a school questionnaire. Can anyone else confirm this?

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The fact is that in many countries, bullying results in zero (or close to zero) suicides. In Japan, however, the numbers seem quite high (I do not have statistics to quote here).

So there MUST be something different going on with Japanese schools and/or Japanese culture... I don't think it is the food, water or weather, and language is doubtful, so that leaves culture.

By culture, I mean: 1) Central to Japanese culture is the simpai/kohai relationship. You do not talk back to your simpai. You GAMAN in the face of adversity.

a key to GAMAN is to suffer quietly. 2) I have also seen adults 'passively' dominate other adults (for ex. "I went to Todai and you didn't...in this case implying that I know more than you, so be quiet). 3) I am SENSEI. You are not. For Japanese students from K-12, teachers talk and students listen. Discussion/debate are NOT valued/taught in Japanese schools - these skills will not help you get into a good University. 4)Japanese parents/students/teachers do not come to the rescue of kids who are being bullied. Think about this... why are these kids eating alone at school?

Here it comes: 1) Example: Ayako is being bullied. Anyone close to Ayako knows that if they continue to side with Ayako, they too will be targeted by the bully (or bullies). So they stop eating lunch together, and doing other social activities with Ayako. This further isolates the bullied Ayako at a time when she is especially sensitive and fragile. Japanese kids do not form their own group to counter the power of the bullies - this is the "fit in, don't stand out" part of J-culture.

2) Japanese parents often belittle/ignore the bullied child's initial cry for help. The mother will often have the bullied child give a present (read bribe) to the bully. Sometimes this is effective, and the bullying stops.

3) Japanese teachers usually DO NOT DIRECTLY intervene on behalf of the bullied child. If they do anything, it is a weak effort, like addressing the whole class with a "bullying is bad" speech, rather than singling out the bully for a one-on-one talk.

the U.S. tv show "60 MINUTES" did a segment about Japanese, Chinese and American kindergartens, and their differences. This was originally aired in the 1980's, but it is relevant today. It was noted that in Japan, when a child took a toy from another child, the teachers/parents DID NOTHING. Their theory? Kids need to learn to work out their own problems, and interfering will not help them learn their place in J-society. In contrast, at the American kindergarten, teachers IMMEDIATELY intervened when a child took a toy from another child - with a free lecture of "wait your turn!" and "you have to share your toys."

What is that expression - the children are our future?

Yeah, maybe I'm on to something...

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KevininHawaii, I like what you said about the stupid sempai/kohai thing. That might also be a big problem stemming this bullying problem in Japan. Good Point!

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There are many nut cases in Japan, people get called gross, kimoi etc...everyday, does this mean you need to suicide? Hell no! Something else must have been really bad in this poor girls life. RIP Hokkaido girl.

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Stamping ijime out is complicated by Japanese societys powerful group reinforcement ethos and acceptance of suicide as a kind of disguised eugenics, designed to winnow out the unfit. The deep rooted nature of *gaman* and *shoganai* attitudes enforces compliance with a binding network of culturally derived rules and behaviours and acceptance of the rewards and punishments that go with it. In the absence of the full facts of the case, one can only speculate that the little girls deep fear of being ostracized from the group is what led her to this tragic end.

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"On Nov 17, the principal responded to a citywide Board of Education questionnaire on bullying, stating that no girls at his school were being bullied."

This is odd, to say the least. Why is it the girls were singled out in the first place if they claim there was no bullying?

Reading the article, though, and the comments about how the girl was 'bullied', it makes it seem as though the girl took the 'easy way out'. It's absolutely tragic that she felt the need to take her own life, but name-calling and ignoring people happens EVERYWHERE. Japan has a SERIOUS problem when kids at this age are offing themselves over next to nothing. Next it'll be a 14 year old killing herself because of acne.

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Gurukun - (nice name) - no one aspect can ever be singled out as the sole factor - but as most people living in Japan notice, Japanese culture is .... different. It values different characteristics, promotes different attitudes and condones different behavior. Japanese teachers are all products of the same Japanese education system / society that is the root cause of teen suicide.

SOMEONE has to look outside the box (or the country), figure out what key factors' other countries are getting right, and then reverse-engineer a solution to the current system of 'institutionalized suicide' pretending to be the Japanese education system.

Does anyone know if private schools in Japan have the same rate of suicides as public schools? I suspect principals and teachers in private schools are more hands-on in keeping their tuition paying students alive...
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Public & Private Japanese Schools do not have a pyschiatrist, professional child psychiatrist, or any kind of professional in the field of pyschiatry. All they have is one teacher designated as a counselor but the counselor is not properly trained. Only trained in informative (2HR) videos about teenager/adolecent suicide.

I've seen this first hand at public schools in japan, 85% of the times bullies come from broken homes.

I stopped few bullying but can't stop them all.

Usually, fat girls, foreign children,totally weak kid, mixed race kids, dark skinned japanese kids (not mixed) are bullied at schools.

I've seen alot of nerdy kids not bullied.

Elementary schools are very childish in japan. I mean over the top childish.

Plus this japanese society frown upon teaching kids to fight back. It's totally wrong to fight back in japan, I was bullied when i was a kid and i totally fought back most of the times. I never let kids try to destroy me. Bullies are weak individuals, if you retaliate they will usually backdown.

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85% of the times bullies come from broken homes.

well, I don't know about the 85% part, but I do agree that mostt of the bullies come from broken homes. Broken doesn't mean financially poor or single-parent family, it means that the families don't teach their kids the important values BEFORE entering school.

kids should learn those basic values while they are still in kindergarten/hoikuen.. Toddlers are NOT too young to teach values, and if you fail to teach toddlers how to be nice to others, you're failed as a parent. Basic rule is that you don't do what you don't want others to do to you, it's that simple, and you need to start teaching that rule even before your kids starts to talk, and teach in your every-day life, not just on a special occasion.

Sometimes you see the kids parents and you understand why the kids act like they do...

I don't expect schools and teachers to protect my children, it is simply too much for them... 40 kids in one class, teachers are over worked and extremely busy.. Know your kids' friends and classmates, talk to them when you visit school and/or when the kids play together... communicate with your kids' friends' parents so that you know who they are.

Often enough, those parents of the kids who are bullied don't know the kids' friends and the parents.. When you go to PTA, get to school a bit earlier to peek inside of the classroom.. Chat with other parents before PTA starts and exchange phone mail address and etc... (I do that all the time).

Although schools and teachers are responsible for what happens during the school hours, parents should not fully depend on them.. Be proactive and PROTECT YOUR OWN CHILDREN AND TEACH YOUR OWN CHILDREN WHAT BASIC VALUES ARE... Raise your child right and you SHOULDN'T HAVE TO count on schools and teachers when something happens..

And the kids should know that there's always a safe hideout ... Make home a comfortable place for the kids to be, and when they feel like they have no other place to go to, they can still be safe in their hideout.

I remember when I was a child, whenever I felt sad, I had one place I always went to and hid.. My parents knew where I was, but I sometimes had to hide and think.. I used to get hurt with such small incidents (now I think of it and those incidents are silly), but for little kids, those silly incidents CAN BE FELT like a disaster... So, I think it's good sometimes to let them hide and don't always have to tell them to Ganbare....

I know my post is pretty long, but I guess what I wanted to say is that parents have to protect our own kids and not count/blame on teachers so much.

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this has now reached epidemic proportions. NO MORE PLANNING to do something. something must be done NOW.

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There were very good points mentioned here. I have learned a valuable lesson.Things I did not see in this perspective,but it makes sense. Parents should take the time to talk to their children about basic values, to speak out and fight back, also the suggestion that parents should provide their kids with a place where they could draw back. Maybe that would eleminate one sided "tojikomori". I would like to add one more point. Kids should know that they are precious. I would challenge all the "scientific stuff" about evolution and stick to creation. We need to know that we are made in the image of God.That we are loved by someone greater than our parents and mightier than bullies or even teachers or principals.A real authority.

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I have seen firsthand teachers force a kid who was punched by a bully to apologize to the bully.... it was incredibly sad.

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We need to know that we are made in the image of God.That we are loved by someone greater than our parents and mightier than bullies or even teachers or principals.A real authority.

Proceed. Works for me!

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"On Nov 17, the principal responded to a citywide Board of Education questionnaire on bullying, stating that no girls at his school were being bullied." - Principal Fumio Suzuki

Any principal naïve or foolish enough to believe for even a second that no bullying exists in a junior high school, for Pete's sake, doesn't deserve the title of "Principal." This man should be out of a job for sheer stupidity at the very least, and blatant dishonestly at worst.

The problem with bullying in Japan is that society as a whole knows perfetly well that it's rampant and that precious little is being done to curb it. And since most of the population has managed to either avoid being bullied by conforming adequately, or have by being bullies themselves, they don't give the problem a moment's thought -- at least not until another 13-year-old throws herself off a balcony.

Furthermore, and I honestly believe this based on things I've personally witnessed along the lines of what SmithinJapan pointed out, bullying is often viewed as a necessary evil for creating a harmonious society. When all the other tool Japanese society employs to socialize its children fail to create the perfect model citizen -- or rather what people seem to believe is the perfect model citizen -- harsher tactics are employed. I can't count the number of times I've heard teachers rationalize flagrant assault with, "Well, s/he had it coming because his/her attitude wasn't condusive to group harmony." And wheel goes round and round.

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@fishy

Kids of that age(12-13)would not be willing to discuss most of their problems openly with their parents let alone issues of bullying.You spend most of your time at school and your real friends are there and if you are ostracized or bullied or have their self-esteem shattered by continued name calling..well,school can be a lonely place.most kids of that age havent developed in character to deal with that.its not easy for some to recover from that even in later life.

As a parent you can teach your kids values and the difference between right and wrong and prepare them as well as you can in theory but when its someone elses kid who doesnt have these "basic values" and makes your kids life hell in real everyday life then any kid will struggle in the face of continued bullying.

its up to all adults be they parents and teachers or guardians of any kind to teach these kids from as early an age as possible (kindergarten up)how to interact with each other better.

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Principal Fumio Suzuki described the incident as “truly heartbreaking” and said that it had affected him deeply. “I failed to properly check for signs of bullying,” he said.

Start charging these teachers and principals with contributing to the death of a student. Give the some jail time. Maybe something might change.

It's absolutely disgusting that these girls, and boys, are killing themselves. The adults must step up and help them. If the classes were a decent size (max 25 or so), and teachers had some power (to punish, expel, suspend) students, then the situation may begin to change.

Japan should be embarrassed - this kind of situation is total humiliation for Japan.

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Judderman-

Kids of that age(12-13)would not be willing to discuss most of their problems openly with their parents let alone issues of bullying

Yes, I agree.. Many kids don't want to talk about their real issues because they don't want let their parents down, and/or they feel embarrased. I understand that and I agree (because I didn't want to let my parents know when something went wrong in school as a child and I still remember that) ... and THAT IS WHY I said what I said.. Teach kids the basic values BEFORE they enter schools.

And as I also stated in my post, KNOW YOUR KIDS' FRIENDS AND THEIR PARENTS.. I talk to my kids classmates when I go to school or/and after school, and I talk to their parents (mostly moms, but some dads as well). My kids play sports on weekends and so I get to spend much time with the teammates' parents, and meet other parents through those parents and etc, and it works well. BECAUSE kids often don't want to talk about their problems with their parents, we have to watch them and their friends when they are together.. If your kids never play with friends after school, you might wonder why he or she never plays with friends from school.. Or if they walk home alone after school or walk with friends.. Little things like that can tell you if your kids are isolated..

Isolation can really really hurt people, not only kids but also adults.

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Alot of good points brought up by different posters. But I think no matter how much you teach children to learn how to interact with each other, there is always going to be bullying by anotheer child. Not only in Japan, but for other cultures/countries as well. I think the best way to deal with this is to teach children to also be strong. Not necessarily in the physical sense, but the psycological aspect as well. To understand that it's okay to tell an adult if something isn't right.

I also do not agree that the school is always at fault. As with sexually abused children (as well as physically abused children), they can go to school and interact with others as if nothing is wrong and without teachers even suspecting anything is wrong. In this case, until I hear more news on the subject, I think alot of posters are crucifying the teachers and principal that honestly did not know anything was wrong.

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Umm, bullying doesn't just happen in Japan. Just think about last year the Irish exchange student who caved to her relentless cyber bullying. It's a viscious catch-22. Society doesn't permit people to be confrontational, but that's exactly what you need to be to stand up to a bully. And then of course, there is the proverbial "don't get in volved" from the bystanders who witness it. I'm going to teach my son to stand up for other people who can't do for themselves.

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Standing up to the bullies and be strong.. yes, I agree.. But what do we teach/tell our kids when they are isolated? How do they stand up to fight the situation?

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Hi fishy! I think healthy communication between parents and children is the key. I'm going to go out on a limb here and make an assumption. I bet that a majority of children that commit suicide because of bullying and or isolation do not have a healthy communication network with thier parent/s. The child probably never sees the parents due to long work days, and the parents don't know what thier own child is doing most of the time. They probably eat dinner at different times, or in different locations and never spend quality time with each other.

Going out together, cooking togeather, turning off the TV and discussing different things at dinner, wahing the dishes together can all be a positive thing to get children to discuss thier problems/isolation.

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Hi Grukun :))

Right, communication is very important, it might be the most important thing. For teenagers, it might not be always easy to spill out their feelings, but it's always good to try from the parents side :)

I'd like to believe that even when kids feel isolated in school, if they feel like there's a place where they are loved, needed and welcomed, they should be okay.. I don't know but I'd like to believe that and that's what I'm trying to do-- to make our home a safe/warm/comfy place for the kids.

I remember feeling a bit isolated when I moved to a different city as a child and went to a new school.. I knew nobody and when they told us (the kids) to make groups for a field trip, I didn't know which group I wanted to join and watched other girls holding hands, smiling and saying things like I want to be with OOO-chan and XXX-chan! and etc.. Because I was new and didn't know anyone, I felt isolated even though I wasn't bullied.. I had some tears in my eyes and remember I was so very happy when one girl said I should join in her group!!

I know I can't compare my experience with those real bullying issues, but I want to say that bullying is not always something we can see with our eyes.. I want to protect my kids and my kids' friends from what we cannot always see with our eyes.. It hurts too much to see news like this.. Little kids choosing to kill themselves, this is just wrong.

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I believe communication is a key. Parents should encourage their children to open up to them not only when they are sad but also when they are happy. The fact that that 13 year old girl described her feelings in a long suicide note suggests that she had nobody to talk to about those feelings; she felt that her only recourse was suicide. As for the institutionalized bullying in the Japanese education system- I can't even begin to pretend to know the solution to that problem. The girl felt she was "ignored" in school- again, communication could have been key here...did she perhaps also feel unwelcome to talk to her teachers/school authorities about things in general?

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Among the young girls, the jealousy is very prominent in Jland.And for some reason, I feel that the parents do nothing about it. One of my close friends daughter stopped going to school because she just could not be in par with the other girls in the class. The daughter lacked self-esteem and the mother did nothing morally to support this. The leader of the opponent group (ofcourse with her mother's help), was showing off to her peers how she fit well into the elite group. She would bring Godiva chocolate to class and eat in front of the girls :). Godiva is very posh here!! And my friend would go shop for some other trivial thing to give to her daughter so that the daughter could show off the next day. Well, the Godiva girl won and my friends daughter misses a year. The fate of this child is unknown. This is what I saw with my own eyes. Goodness, do not these mothers know anything better?

Even among the other age groups, jealousy is very prominent among ladies here and it scares me at times. Men are fine. Even at work, men do not compete so much and nice when it comes to sharing etc. But around couples even if they are my friends, I realized that I have to be careful not to incite any form of jealousy.

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I hope that with this incident media will really pick up on it. She left the names of those who bullied her, so I hope that the media and the schools will show every day how much punishment those loosers will get to an extent that nobody will bully nobody anymore. R.I.P.

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Japan has insitutionized bullying. It's part of the culture. Deal with it. Like everything else, nothing will change. Simply say. Hai sempai and get on with your worthless life.

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Fishy: Nice post. I agree. Prevention of bullying begins at home. Parents teaching their kids how to treat others and helping them develop confidence. Parents need to try to keep lines of communication open with their kids and they should also observe the behavior of their child and how he/she interacts with others. Schools should play a role in stopping bullying, too. Schools should have policies in place so teachers know what to do when bullying occurs. Teachers should be reporting any bullying to the parents of both the bully & the victim and to the principal as well.

There have been a few cases like this lately and it's time that schools did more. Simply asking students in a questionnaire--Have you ever been bullied?--is not going to work. Schools need to have strict rules in order to deal with bullying and should have counselors to help troubled kids. For this girl, it is too late. Parents and teachers please don't turn a blind eye to this problem. Do everything you can to be part of the solution.

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Japan has insitutionized bullying. It's part of the culture. Deal with it. Like everything else, nothing will change.

Really?!?!?! I know so many non Japanese bullies. Telling somebody that she is fat and ugly can definitely lead to suicide unless the girl knows that the bully is usually a mentally weak, psychologically unstable, intellectually challenged, having appearance complexes and permanently lacking attention offender.

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This is a very sad case. Another young person I wish I could have saved.

Bullying is not simply endemic to Japan. It is a worldwide problem. There is a very familiar pattern to this case. Child is bullied and is silent about it. Authority looks the other way. Child commits suicide. Authority expresses surprise and tries to cover its institutional hind quarters.

Bullying does not end in school. It continues at work, on the street, in law enforcement and public service.

In this case, I hope that rotten principal resigns or is fired and the families of the children who bullied that girl to death are publicly shamed.

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tragic story, RIP young one. I point the finger at the principal and teachers. Incompetent useless good-for-nothings.

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KevininHawaii at 11:26 AM JST - 23rd November The fact is that in many countries, bullying results in zero (or close to zero) suicides. In Japan, however, the numbers seem quite high (I do not have statistics to quote here).

You're wrong KevininHawaii. In the U.S. there have recently been a spate of suicides by school children bullied because they were suspected of being gay. These are just under-reported and it's only recently since the media began paying attention that these have come to the surface. I've read about 2 school child suicides this year in Japan, but this year there have been at least 4 gay-bullying suicides in the U.S. alone.

In short, it isn't just Japan.

However, the lack of proper sleeping habits is a major contributing factor to the Japanese suicide rate. The link between lack of sleep and depression has been well established.

As for this particular case, I wonder if anyone knows when the girl called the police and when she committed suicide? I've worked on a crisis hotline and the standard procedure with a suicidal person is to keep them talking and on the line until someone gets to their house. Volunteers with just a couple of days of training can do this.

The bottom line for me in this story is that the police lacked the training required to prevent this incident.

As for those blaming the teachers, get a life. They did their best, but if you can't help someone who doesn't realise they need to be helped. The police failed here because when she reached out for help she didn't get the right response.

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All schools should put camera also to monitor the students behaviour in the absence of the teacher. When i was a kid i too get bullied and someschool i also rag some classmates and we used to threaten him of complain. But in front of teacher i had a very good image.

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Frungy -

As for those blaming the teachers, get a life. They did their best, but if you can't help someone who doesn't realise they need to be helped. The police failed here because when she reached out for help she didn't get the right response.

Almost as out-of-touch as tokyonovice. DO blame the teachers on this. Any teacher with any common sense and half a brain can see which kids are being bullied, shunned, etc. The problem in Japan is that unlike the west, there is almost zero support from those who can, and should give it; parents AND teachers. Instead, they try to ignore the elephant in the room and just hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

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Unfortunately bullying, as many have said, is endemic in Japanese culture.

It is wholly supported by other cultural traits such as "gaman" and not talking about your problems, not standing up for yourself and "fitting in".

My daughter is at school in the UK here for two months. Before we joined, she had to sign a good behaviour contract and read the bullying policy. Her first week in school was "anti-bullying week". We had a range of activities and events culminating in a "dress your teddy bear up" competition where the kids had to dress the bears up symbolising "respect" for themselves and each other. My point is - yes, bullying happens everywhere, but here steps are taken to counter it.

In her Japaneae elementary school, I went to meet the teacher and asked if I could have a copy of their anti-bullying policy. They looked at me like I was, well, a foreigner!

So many people answer this topic with me with the standard response "This is Japan". Yes, it is, but like every other culture there are good and bad aspects to "being" that culture, and every other culture I have ever experienced are striving to change or limit the negative aspects of their culture. Except Japan.

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This girl was too sensitive and weak. I am so sorry for her and her parents.

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Dont you just burn up with those parents who send their kids thru school believing their total upbringing is the school's responsibility.Dont worry about teaching them manners at home-the school will do that.Dont bother asking about socialization-thats the schools job.And especially no need to notice body language or the child's declining moods-not the parent's job... of course the teacher should know,but its firstly and lastly all about the parent

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Totaly agree with fishy but what LoveUSA said was the first thing that came to my mind.

The border between bullying and hyper sensitive teenagers is very thin. Teachers can't see everything or can't be responsible for not putting their nose in just about anything going on in the school.

Thus as already said the parents are the one to see the signs and know their kids.

Too bad for all this cases recently as they affect not only some schools but the whole society. Now teachers are not teachers anymore - they were like kindergarten ladies already and now have to become policemen!

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They need to identify the students who bullied her and make their lives hell for awhile. Make their names public. Discourage other children from bullying.

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LoveUSA said:This girl was too sensitive and weak. I am so sorry for her and her parents.

The people that bullied her did so because they are not sensitive enough! Weak? The bulliest are truly the weaker one's. People bully for a reason. All life is precious and for anyone to talk down about his girl, well you are only showing your ignorance and immaturity. Treat people how you want to be treated. You reap what you sow.

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This is so sad. On the other hand, "being ignored" and "being called gross" should not be a reason for suicide?!

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noborito said:Japan has insitutionized bullying. It's part of the culture. Deal with it. Like everything else, nothing will change. Simply say. Hai sempai and get on with your worthless life.

No life is worthless! We conceive universal, inalienable rights when we're conceived in our mama. No one asks to be born, therefore ALL deserve respect, it is not earned, it is inherited as a human being! Only until you step out of that natural order, imposing upon or restricting others inalienable right's. Then, you do not deserve respect.

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It would also help if the teachers actually paid attention to their students more. I wish this girl would have found a better way to get over this, instead of killing herself.

This is exactly like the show "LIFE" - girl is bullied by classmates, teachers don't notice, parents don't notice, she speaks out about it, the administration completely ignores it, etc.

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The girls are very clever. It is very hard to notice the bullying. They are pros at it. I think the parents should pay attention more than the school. Even the gifted ones and the beautiful ones get bullied. It sure is an endemic.

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Treat people how you want to be treated. You reap what you sow.

It is asd and tragic to see such words under this article.

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sad

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The people that bullied her did so because they are not sensitive enough!

People who call a girl "gross" or "ugly and fat" are not only insensitive but cruel. This could be very hurtful and it is intended as an insult to make somebody feel pain and cry. It definitely can lead to suicide or to depression or deep mental pain and anguish. I feel deep sympathy for this girl who could not overcome her pain and chose death to bearing the insults of people who she tought to be her friends or classmates. It is hypocritical that some people speak against bullying but on purpose call a girl "fat and ugly".

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The suicide note she wrote derives from the same matrix that underpins the writing of hansei. It`s a culturally conditioned self-reflection illuminating where things went wrong and perverse as it sounds, a partial acknowledgment of culpability for being the ready vehicle that others in the group used for their own bonding purposes.

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A spokesman for her high school said, “It appears that bullying may have been at the root of this and we are looking into it.”

Boy this guy's really on the ball, isn't he?

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I also love it (sarcasm) how these idiot bureaucrats like to put the onus on the bully-ee to step up and complain. If they reported to the BOE of education that there was bullying, then they'd have a lot of extra work and scrutiny. One wonders if kids complain of bullying, and they get the shougainai, and the bullying is redifined as something else, so these idiots don't have to deal with it.

Japan needs to get rid of guaranteed education for all rule, and expel kids who bully. Or at least send them to a continuation school for bad apples where they can learn to sweep up in front of the conbini.

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The school also carried out one-on-one life consultation sessions with students on Nov 19, at which no female students alluded to any specific issues regarding bullying.

OK, so the question of the day is whether or not THIS girl was one of the ones participating in the one-on-one "life consultations" last week, and if so, why she apparently said nothing about the bullying when asked at that time.

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This is very Sad & the schools should do Something about this issue. I do Not believe in suicide & do think its a cowards way out. she could have, should have just skipped school, asked for Help, ANYTHING at least she would be Living & enjoy the rest of her life. anyone who thinks of that should think of the Future things will & do get Better. the schools should DO something also instead of ignoring this problem

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poor poor girl. Wish I could have hugged her an tell her life is special

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Things usually aren't just as simple as calling someone "gross."

When I was a kid, there was a girl in my class. Let's call her "Sarah." All the other kids in the class had determined that Sarah had "Sarah-germs." Anyone who associated with Sarah or so much as touched Sarah also had Sarah germs. As you can imagine, not many people wanted to be friends with or associate with Sarah.

I and a couple of others did, but you can bet we had to hear about how disgusting and infected we were with those "Sarah-germs." I was new to the school that year and as far as I knew this had been going on since before I came. Of course, complaining to the teacher would get you told, "Don't be a tattletale!" Nowadays it probably wouldn't be tolerated.

Anyway, this is to illustrate a point: Being called gross or disgusting isn't just words. It's also meant to isolate you, because no one will want to associate with you and be gross by association. And god help you if the teachers are in on it too, which seems to be a problem in Japan.

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why don't the police compile a national bully database? complete with hand-writing samples, fingerprints, mugshots, etc.

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There has to be some kind of psychological test (trap) to identify bullies, especially at that age. As soon as bullies are identified they should be have an academic penalty held against them as leverage until they leave that school.

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I know that at such a young age, such events seem nearly impossible to avoid. I wish kids could only know more pride in themselves so that suicide would not be the only way out...

She probably could have made more of a difference alive if she could only have had the strength to stand up to others.

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What if the parents are also weird. My wife keep telling me about her co workers story, who are in their 30s and 40s and they keep bullying every new comer in their office, one obachan even dont hesitate to use the words like sinjaiba.... So i keep thinking if these womens are so ugly in heart what they teach their childrens. Seems like these childrens learn bullying from their parents.

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LoveUSA:It is asd and tragic to see such words under this article.

I was not speaking about the victim. I'm talking about the bullies. They will reap what they sow.

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Kids often don't tell their parents, because they believe that if their parents get involved the situation may get worse - which may happen. So they feel that have no one to turn to. Teachers have no power. They cannot discipline their students. There is no policy for expulsion. J-teachers have their hands tied by federal law on education. The whole system needs to be changed.

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It's impossible to stop bullying, and it's not always possible to stand up to a bully without getting bullied even more. but it is possible for a person to not commit suicide.

Terrible story, and I hate bullies. But, I am going to do everything I can to make sure my kids tell me what's going on in their lives and minds. I'd like to know the statistics about kids who are bullied and suicide and whether they have siblings or not. Sometimes kids can't talk to their teachers or even parents but they can to a brother or sister.

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hansei... a culturally conditioned self-reflection illuminating where things went wrong and perverse as it sounds. True. It sounds more perverse that there is no English for hansei.

"The whole system needs to be changed." I think that bullying is also part of the system of using the social dynamic of the class (gakkyuu), intra-peer pressure, to control the class, rather than have the teacher hand out punishment to each individual. I think that the latter is pretty perverse, and encourages young people to believe in an a-social, transcendent, 'higher moral law' - when in fact, imho, morals are about, and begin and end in the art of how to get on with other people.

Unless Japan wants to go down the transendentdal moralist path, I guess they need to accept that there will always be some bullying, and some suicide as a result of that intra-peer pressure, bullying.

All the same, it seems better than other systems that I have made contact with. Does a teen suicide, or murder, make the national press in the UK or the USA?

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hoserfella at 07:05 PM JST - 23rd November Almost as out-of-touch as tokyonovice. DO blame the teachers on this. Any teacher with any common sense and half a brain can see which kids are being bullied, shunned, etc. The problem in Japan is that unlike the west, there is almost zero support from those who can, and should give it; parents AND teachers. Instead, they try to ignore the elephant in the room and just hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

hoserfella, even if you see a kid is being bullied, shunned, etc, then what precisely can you do if you try and approach the kid and they go, "No I'm not being bullied, everything is okay.". The teachers here are some of the best I've seen anywhere in the world, and in my experience are kind and concerned, but you simply cannot help someone who doesn't want to be helped.

If you try and force help on someone mostly it backfires and just makes the situation worse. Think about it for a second. If you suspect a kid is being bullied and ask them, "Is everything okay?", and they respond that it's fine, and you end by saying something like, "Drop by anytime to talk if something is bothering you", then you haven't pushed them into a corner and the door is still open.

Some people here want the teachers to confront the kids and say, "I know you're being bullied". This simply doesn't work. Either the kid will deny it not be backed into a corner where they can't later approach you and tell you because they've categorically denied it and "coming clean" would mean admitting that they lied earlier, OR the kids would feel pressured to manufacture a bully because the teacher (an authority figure) clearly expects there to be one.

I'm not out of touch with reality, I know exactly what I'm talking about, and you don't, and blaming the teachers here is not appropriate. Some people here seem to expect every teacher to be a trained professional psychologist, but ignore two important facts:

The parents have 1 or 2 children to take care of and they have every weekend and evening with the children, and THEY didn't see the problem; why should the teacher magically spot it when they have 40 or so other children to take care of, and only spend 30 or 40 minutes a day with their class (home room periods at the beginning and end of the day), and maybe 1 other class a day. The myth that any single teacher spends more time with the students than their parents deserves to be debunked.

The child didn't want to be helped at the time when the teachers asked. Even if one is a qualified psychologist it is almost impossible to help someone who doesn't think that they need help. Unless hoserfella you're an advocate of institutionalizing school kids and forcing them to take anti-depressants if you suspect (and they deny) they're being bullied?

Oh, and one last point hoserfella, you're really down on Japan, but actually the suicide rate amongst young males and females (15 to 24 years old) in Japan is much lower than many other places. The total youth suicide rate in Japan is 14.4 per 100 000, while in the U.S. it's 25.7 (source: Nationmaster statistics). In short, per capita, the "Western countries" you claim have such a great way of dealing with kids, are in fact MUCH worse at preventing suicides.

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timtak-- It has made the news a lot lately, particularly because a lot of it has to do with homophobia and the like. But the problem is far larger, and I think people are finally beginning to see that. You still have parents who defend the monsters they've raised, saying "Well, kids will be kids, they've always done this kind of thing", and that's just not a legitimate excuse anymore. In fact, it never has been. I feel Japan is similar in that, unconciously, people might be thinking "well, I had to deal with it and I turned out fine" or "this is the way it has always been" and so it doesn't seem so much an issue. But it is.

This story broke my heart, yet again. How many more children have to die before someone speaks up? There may always be bullying, but I find it disgusting that people always pressure the victims and talk as if they weren't doing enough instead of focusing on the kids actually DOING the bullying. How about we try to stop it at the source instead of telling kids that they should have just told someone and that would MAGICALLY solve their problems. Here's a tip: It doesn't work.

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The parents need to get more involved with their kids.

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I'm not out of touch with reality, I know exactly what I'm talking about, and you don't

Oooo, Dr.Frungy! So sorry to have stepped on your toes! Im eager to know more about your theory of Japan having one of the highest suicide rates in the world because they......don't get enough sleep?? I'm also curious why a trained professional such as yourself (just how long did you man those volunteer lines?) suggests we wash our hands of the whole situation when a child refuses to talk about their problem. Doc, Im also curious to see if you have any correlation between the vast numbers of untreated, undiagnosed mental disorders in this country whose problems might very well arise from, say, bullying. (By the way, now that I know I'm jousting with a trained professional, I'll try and keep my opinions to a mimimum)

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sorry but you can't rely on someone else to solve your problems. i don't know what the answer is but teachers and parents can only do so much and getting them involved will not solve the problem and may perhaps make it worse if you are seen as a squealer. i understand that is germany, they have a program where each student is designated as being the target for bullying for the day so that each student knows what it feels like which seems to work. the only suggestion i can think of is that if you are being bullied, document it so that you can make a case against your persecutors which cannot be ignored when you take it to the proper authorities.

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hoserfella at 11:14 AM JST - 24th November Oooo, Dr.Frungy! So sorry to have stepped on your toes! Im eager to know more about your theory of Japan having one of the highest suicide rates in the world because they......don't get enough sleep??

Two short articles from the BBC written for the layperson so you can get an idea of the size of the problem with lack of sleep. It's not the only way to tackle the problem, but given that Japanese schools already issue rules about children sleeping 8 hours a night in elementary school it would be a logical and established starting point to addressing the problem of depression and suicide in Japan. news.bbc.co.u[slash]2[slash]hi[slash]8435955.stm news.bbc.co.uk[slash]2[slash]hi[slash]health[slash]7972646.stm

I'm also curious why a trained professional such as yourself (just how long did you man those volunteer lines?) suggests we wash our hands of the whole situation when a child refuses to talk about their problem.

I have more than 10 year of experience in clinical practice and 5 years experience on crisis lines.

As for washing our hands of the situation, you are completely misrepresenting my position. Counseling of any type requires two willing participants. It would be unethical and counter-productive to force someone into counseling unless you had evidence that they posed a plausible risk to themselves or others. I was merely pointing that out. One can no more force a schoolchild to disclose that they're being bullied than one can force someone to agree with you. You can try and convince them, give them an opportunity to talk about the issue and bring them around to your point of view, but forcing someone to see things your way is counter-productive in the long run, they may agree in the short term merely to satisfy you... and then recant the moment they leave.

Doc, Im also curious to see if you have any correlation between the vast numbers of untreated, undiagnosed mental disorders in this country whose problems might very well arise from, say, bullying. (By the way, now that I know I'm jousting with a trained professional, I'll try and keep my opinions to a mimimum)

You're welcome to your opinions, however I do take exception when you slander teachers, because I think they're trying their best. As for Japan's suicide problem, the problem is complicated, and many of the previous posters were correct in pointing out the links with culture. That's why I'm a firm proponent of addressing the sleep issue. The issue of over-working and karoshi (death by over-work) has already prompted government action, and the lack of sleep is an associated issue. It is an easy target and action is already being taken in the same vicinity, so extending the action is much easier than attacking a very sensitive issue like culture. There are also firm guidelines on how much sleep is appropriate, whereas changes to something as sensitive and amorphous as "culture" could easily produce as many negative side-effects as it produces positive benefits.

The trick to dealing with complex problems is a series of simple solutions. Sleep is a logical, defensible and actionable starting place.

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Dr. Frungy, on one hand you cite cultural issues and on the other, your curious assertion that sleep is the issue. Which is it?

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Dr. Fungy. Interesting post, but hoserfella's rejoiner is okay too. Perhaps a lack of sleep among children (or at least far less - how much is a lack?) is part of Japanese culture. If it is Japanese culture then does it need to be called a "complex problem" and would it be a good idea to "solve Japanese culture" in a series of simple solutions. Great stats at the end of Dr. Frungy's post. Bearing them in mind, perhaps it is good that Japanese children sleep less, and kill themselves less.

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hoserfella at 01:24 PM JST - 24th November Dr. Frungy, on one hand you cite cultural issues and on the other, your curious assertion that sleep is the issue. Which is it?

There is no single cause to depression and suicide. There are cultural factors, for example, that suicide is a more socially acceptable alternative in Japan, there are social variables, like the pressure not to be different (even if you are), there are economic variables, like unemployment. However I'm not honestly going to propose a full multi-modal intervention model on a newspaper bulletin board.

I chose to discuss sleep because it's easier to fix than, for example, changing Japanese culture, or society, or the economy, and it's a small change for a big win. Ideally it would only be the first step in a long series of changes, but you've got to get the ball rolling with something. It's also useful advice for anyone reading this board because everyone can take a look at their sleeping patterns and correct them quite easily, whereas bitching about Japanese society or culture is kindof defeatist.

timtak at 01:51 PM JST - 24th November Dr. Fungy. Interesting post, but hoserfella's rejoiner is okay too. Perhaps a lack of sleep among children (or at least far less - how much is a lack?) is part of Japanese culture.

It's influenced by culture, mostly the "gambatte" (work hard!) ethic, but elementary school children are already instructed to sleep at least 8 hours a night, so to inch this up to junior high school wouldn't be seen as such an assault on Japanese culture, as compared with, for example, attacking the "gambatte" phenomenon. Poor teenage sleep patterns have been shown to not only raise the risk of suicide and depression during the teenage years, but also increase the life-time risk of suicide and depression, so every year they're sleeping properly is a win.

As for, "how much is enough", there is a personal element, but the normal range is 7 to 9 hours (it depends on the precise length of your sleep cycle, since talking about hours is not actually correct, rather one should talk about complete sleep cycles and quality of sleep, but I'm getting a bit academic). Basically anything below your number is bad, but the curve isn't linear (e.g. every hour = +5% risk of depression), but rather geometric (e.g. 1 hour less sleep = +5%, 2 hours less sleep= +20%, 3 hours less sleep = +40%, 4 hours less sleep= +75%....). Hence a person who's ideal sleeping time is 7 hours and is sleeping 6 hours a night would have a minimal risk from sleeping 1 less hour, while someone who's ideal sleeping time is 9 hours and is sleeping 6 hours would be at a geometrically higher risk.

If it is Japanese culture then does it need to be called a "complex problem" and would it be a good idea to "solve Japanese culture" in a series of simple solutions.

Well that's actually what one would be doing by focusing on sleep, undermining one aspect of Japanese culture, the "gambatte" aspect. The next step might be to move on to requiring people to take sick days rather than them sitting in the office with their masks on simply to earn a bigger bonus by having perfect attendance. However if one publically stated that one was out to change and fix Japanese culture the backlash would be immense and immediate, and no matter how much sense the solution made it would be rejected as an assault on the Japanese dignity and cultural identity. Rather taking an existing regulation (in this case that elementary schoolers must sleep 8 hours a night) and using the existing research on depression and suicide as a reason to extend that to junior high school one is actually exerting an influence on Japanese culture, but it's a positive one, and it is for everyone's benefit and to no-one's detriment.

To put it in simpler terms if your kid does something stupid, like put the goldfish in the microwave in the belief that it will get super-powers, well the first step is to make sure they understand that you're upset about the behaviour, and that what they DID is what needs to be corrected, and that you're not angry with them as a person. This may seem like a small distinction, but it's one that policy makers so often miss. I like Japanese culture on the whole, but what it DOES in terms of sleep is negative and needs to be corrected. I am not upset with Japanese people or Japanese culture, but rather looking to correct one negative behaviour at a time.

Great stats at the end of Dr. Frungy's post. Bearing them in mind, perhaps it is good that Japanese children sleep less, and kill themselves less.

To me it shows that there are compensating factors that counter-balance the lack of sleep, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make things even better by dealing with the sleep problem too. Even one avoidable suicide is a tragedy.

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"The whole system needs to be changed." I think that bullying is also part of the system of using the social dynamic of the class (gakkyuu), intra-peer pressure, to control the class, rather than have the teacher hand out punishment to each individual.

It's not only schools. It's not only parents. It's basically that a central feature of Japanese culture is to strengthen the group dynamic. That's why club activities are a key feature of the Japanese educational system. A unique people, speaking a unique language. Strength in what is common to the group. Ostracizing what is not common to the group as a way of forcing it to conform. The government encourages this. Parents encourage this. Schools encourage this. And groups of kids at school encourage this. The answer is not so easy. The idea of strength in diversity and advantages from plurality could be given greater currency in the education system. Alternatively, the idea of inclusion of aberrants in group activities as a means of strengthening the group might be a successful Japanese type of approach.

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Frungy - your long-winded post at 2:40 is a reflection of why kids don't get proper help in this country. The powers that be, instead of grappling with the problem head on (i.e swift recognition that the problem exists, swift punishment for the bully, and heart-to-hearts with the victim) try to figure out a sterile, cold scientific solution; (.75% more sleep multiplied by 8.5 hrs = everybodys happy again!) What Japan needs is a sea change in public attitudes towards bullying, depression etc. Even in N.America just a few decades ago, mental illness was seen as something shameful to be hidden away. Proper education changed that in a reetively short time and theres no reason why it can't happen in Japan, too. Silly scientific theories waste time.

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I agree that the problem of bullying is far larger in Japan.

It is endemic I believe, because it is, or was, to an extent encouraged as part of the system. There is a book by an old school Japanese educator called something like "Gakkyuu no susume" (or maybe gakkyuukyouikunosusume) which said that teachers should encourage students to see themselves as a group and bring themselves to order.  

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Ofcourse, the attitude of trying to be better than the peers steals a lot of time. There are many factors; even that thing of mothers waking up a few hours early to make a bento which makes her kid feel more superior is all absurd and creating that bullying spirit. What happened to the principals like the one on Totochan who tried to make every kid special?

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which makes the nationwide survey a failure

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hoserfella at 04:42 PM JST - 24th November Frungy - your long-winded post at 2:40 is a reflection of why kids don't get proper help in this country.

... Firstly you're way out of line for your personal attack, and it reflects more on you as a person rather than on me. Just FYI I banged out that post in a 5 minute break, I type quickly and I'm intimitely familiar with the subject matter.

Also it has no relation to whether children do or do not get help.

The powers that be, instead of grappling with the problem head on (i.e swift recognition that the problem exists, swift punishment for the bully, and heart-to-hearts with the victim) try to figure out a sterile, cold scientific solution; (.75% more sleep multiplied by 8.5 hrs = everybodys happy again!) What Japan needs is a sea change in public attitudes towards bullying, depression etc. Even in N.America just a few decades ago, mental illness was seen as something shameful to be hidden away. Proper education changed that in a reetively short time and theres no reason why it can't happen in Japan, too. Silly scientific theories waste time.

This also makes no sense. You want a change in public opinion, but based on ... what precisely? Without a real understanding of the problem, without scientific investigation to determine causal links, and to determine where action would be effective you're just advocating a lot of hysteria and directionless action, which will achieve precisely nothing.

As for taking action against bullies, how precisely do you propose to do that in cases like the above where kids don't disclose the identity of the bullies until AFTER they're dead, when firstly it's way too late, and secondly those kids are probably borderline suicidal themselves over the idea of having caused someone's death. Your "solutions" would just rack up a higher body count. Congratulations, you're part of the problem.

Moderator: Readers, please stop sniping at each other. Focus your comments on the story, not at each other.

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Frungy - you lost my interest with the following;

Basically anything below your number is bad, but the curve isn't linear (e.g. every hour = +5% risk of depression), but rather geometric (e.g. 1 hour less sleep = +5%, 2 hours less sleep= +20%, 3 hours less sleep = +40%, 4 hours less sleep= +75%....). Hence a person who's ideal sleeping time is 7 hours and is sleeping 6 hours a night would have a minimal risk from sleeping 1 less hour, while someone who's ideal sleeping time is 9 hours and is sleeping 6 hours would be at a geometrically higher risk.

I doubt very much this was the answer to the problems with the girl in Hokkaido

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Stories like this make me sick, the thought of children killing themselves because of bullies.

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hoserfella at 11:26 PM JST - 24th November Frungy - you lost my interest with the following; "Basically anything below your number is bad,<snip>, while someone who's ideal sleeping time is 9 hours and is sleeping 6 hours would be at a geometrically higher risk." I doubt very much this was the answer to the problems with the girl in Hokkaido

Well the reason it didn't interest you is probably because it wasn't answering your question, it was answering Timtak's question about how much sleep is "enough".

As for your doubt about the girl in Hokkaido, she was definitely depressed before the incident, and one of the symptoms of depression is sleep disturbance, so she was undoubtedly not getting enough sleep. When one is already depressed this lack of sleep compounds the issue and makes everything seem worse. Also in most countries someone clearly suffering from sleep deprivation (dark rings under their eyes, slowed reactions, at times incoherent, etc...) would be clear warning signs to parents and teachers that there was something wrong, but in Japan this easily observable symptom is usually dismissed as a sign that the person has been working/studying hard and has been sacrificing sleep to do so.

The bottom line is that you're wrong again hoserfella, lack of education about appropriate sleep patterns undoubtedly contributed to this girl's death, both directly by aggravating the existing problems and indirectly by masking a clear symptom of the seriousness of the problem and thus preventing an intervention.

Educating people about the importance of the basics, like sleeping enough, is a vital step in suicide prevention. This isn't just a problem in Japan though, it's a problem internationally.

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Ah Frungy! This explains why I feel so crappy all the time! I have 3 kids under 7 and I haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time for 6 years!

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@frungy I do agree with you about the sleep. I am no doctor, but I know from direct experience. I suffered from debilitating depression for most of my life once I hit 13. I do not however think it is all sleep. I was on drugs left and right. Nothing worked. One day I slowly changed. I ate better, exercised more and slept more. They basically cured me. not 100% of course. but the difference is night and day. Yes I think sleep has something to do with it and that is one thing we can all agree Japanese people do not do enough of. At the same time I have serious questions about their diet. and in many ways many of their life styles are OVER exercise. close to exhaustion. The same as over training. In the gym if we over train, there becomes a point where you are literally doing harm to your body. Your immune system goes down, etc. very common and very easy to do. I know these little girls are not lifting wieghts, but they are on their feet in class, in gym, in band, in clubs, walking, biking to school. They are non-stop 7 days a week. the harder you work the MORE you need to sleep. I think for the average american you may need 8 hours of work. But the average Japanese person work LONGER and HARDER than the average American and IMO needs more rest and sleep. I wonder how many of the adults suicides drank EVERY NIGHT like most Japanese salary men. guess what? that is alcoholism. Japan is basically 90% alcoholic. Guess what. You dont sleep as well or as deep when you drink. Bam 6 hours of beer induced sleep is like a crappy 4 hour nap. IMO I think sleep is a HUGE HUGE part of it but there are so many other issues here surrounding that. I think most of the people who dont think sleep is related probably dont get much sleep and they are being mighty defensive. either in denial, or you dont think you have depression which is fine, but it effects everyone differently, for 3,000 years people have said a healthy body is a healthy mind. Sleep is HUGE part of that.

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miamum at 11:52 PM JST - 25th November Ah Frungy! This explains why I feel so crappy all the time! I have 3 kids under 7 and I haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time for 6 years!

Your post made me smile, my child is under 3 still and sometimes wakes me up at 1 in the morning to "play" (which mostly consists of beating me with objects while laughing every time I groan and try to get back to sleep), so I can sympathise. My advice? Sorry, I'm still working on this one myself.

kujiranikusuki at 08:34 AM JST - 26th November @frungy I do agree with you about the sleep.

Eat, sleep, exercise. Not too much, not too little. I agree completely. Also agree on the alcoholism issue in Japan. The discussion around "How much is too much?" has raged internationally for years, but some sort of consensus seems to have been reached and basically if you're drinking more than 7 drinks a week then you're reached the tipping point where the beneficial effects are outweighed by the negative effects. A glass of red wine every night with dinner, that's okay. One beer every night? Not ideal for your six-pack, but okay. Knocking back a six-pack of beers every night? Very much not okay.

My favourite sleep quote is from Shakespeare, "Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care, The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast"

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The sad part is that bullying has always been a problem in Japan. They need to educate the school teachers more and the community and the parents need to have a closer relationship with their own child. It's terrible but being more sensitive and aware of the students behavaviot is extremely important for the teacher. The Principal of the school and the school counselor need to be more on top of this issue. They should perhaps also educate the students on these matters also. The most important thing in this world are relationships wheather it's within the home, between spouses, friends, students and teachers, principal. It is important. We can all work on being more considerate and sensitive to other peoples needs.

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“I failed to properly check for signs of bullying,” he said.

Don't worry. No one relies on yours for information anyway. Neither the parents who'd like to send their kids too, I believe.

I hope someone will make a hardcore documentary about this and scores worldwide acclaims... Really feel for those victims

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