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Teenager Commits Public Suicide in Kyoto

Date Posted: 2000-03-10

A Japanese schoolboy jumped to his death out of a second-storey classroom window in front of stunned classmates last Friday March 4th, shocking the nation with a grim reminder of its high suicide rate. According to news reports, Yohei Ajimi, a 13-year-old student in the ancient capital of Kyoto, said “I am going to die” and then ran towards the window and threw himself out, falling 8.5 m to the ground. His own classmates were witnesses of the gruesome death.

While suicide is not unknown among Japanese schoolchildren troubled by poor marks or bullying, Ajimi was a good student and belonged to a traditional fencing club. The school principal said he was not aware of any incidents of bullying involving the boy. No suicide note was found, although he had written a message on his desk in the classroom suggesting he might commit suicide, according to school sources quoted by Kyodo. Classmates said he had also mentioned killing himself the day before.

A total of 192 schoolchildren killed themselves in Japan during the year from March 1998 to March 1999, according to the Education Ministry. It said some may have been motivated by the suicide of a popular Japanese rock star. Nearly 33,000 Japanese, a record high, killed themselves in 1998. Suicide is a tragic tradition in Japan, often resorted to as a means of escaping shame or saving loved ones from embarrassment.

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