Monday, December 26, 2005

Cult of suicide pacts

Another shocking case of group suicide has emerged in Japan in less than a year. Three men and a woman were found dead Sunday morning in a car parked on the side of a forest road in Tokigawa, Saitama Prefecture.

Seven young people were found in a van in the Saitama mountains to the west of Tokyo on Oct 12 last year.

Both incidents are believed to have been triggered by the meeting of lonely hearts on websites that assist group suicides. Wikipedia informs that the most common method of suicide in such cases is carbon monoxide poisoning achieved by burning charcoal briquettes in grills or stoves within an enclosed area, such as a small sealed room, tent, or car.

Group/mass suicides are not a new phenomenon. The most publicized case in recent memory is of thirty nine people who killed themselves in a hilltop mansion near San Diego, California back in 1997. They believed an alien spaceship was hiding behind the Comet Hale-Bopp and drugged themselves in order to reach it. The victims were self-drugged and then suffocated by other members in a series of suicides over a period of three days. Marshall Applewhite (in the pic) was the leader of the gang, which called itself the Heaven's Gate cult. He died alongwith the others.


Virginia Woolf isn't the only writer who induces suicidal feelings in readers. Been reading David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Sample this:

The lovelorn, the cry-for-helpers, all mawkish tragedians who give suicide a bad name are the idiots who rush it, like amateur conductors. A true suicide is a paced, disciplined certainty. People pontificate, "Suicide is Selfishness." Career churchmen like Pater go a step further and call it a cowardly assault on the living. Cowardice is nothing to do with it - suicide takes considerable courage. Japanese have the right idea. No, what’s selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends and enemies a bit of soul-searching...

...Strip back the beliefs pasted on by governesses, schools and states, you find indelible truths at one's core. Rome'll decline and fall again, Cortes'll lay Tenochititlan to waste again, and later, Ewing will sail again, Adrian'll be blown to pieces again, you and I'll sleep under Corsican stars again, I'll come to Bruges again, fall in and out of love with Eva again, you'll read this letter again, the sun'll grow cold again. Nietzsche's gramophone record. When it ends, the Old One plays it again, for an eternity of eternity.

-Robert Frobisher, Letters from Zedelghem

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