Akita Prefectural Mental Health and Welfare Center, Akita city, Japan
Internet and Suicide. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 452 pages.
Internet suicide is a type of suicide pact; however, it is different in nature from the traditional suicide pacts in that it is prearranged between strangers who meet over the Internet. Internet suicide, also known as “net suicide,” is a phrase that has become one of the most notorious terms for the Japanese in recent times. In 1998, the number of suicides in Japan increased sharply, and the annual number of suicides exceeded 30,000. Since then, the figure has remained above 30,000. Presently, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In recent times, a critical situation that is deteriorating in Japan is that net suicides are increasing. To prevent net suicides, the Japanese government has formulated a policy as a measure for suicide prevention by both regulating detrimental content related to suicide behavior on the Internet and offering useful information related to suicide prevention adversely. Conventionally, in Japan, suicide prevention measures have been adopted mainly by implementing prevention measures for depressive disorder; however, the number of suicides did not decrease as expected. In view of this situation, the suicide prevention law, which was enacted in 2006, has clarified as a basic policy that suicide is a social problem rather than an individual problem and that it should be tackled at the societal level. It is of vital importance that net suicide prevention be specifically tackled at the societal level, although this can be said to be applicable to suicide prevention on the whole.