Re: Suicide by Starvation

Troy Case (troycase@IMAP1.ASU.EDU)
Fri, 28 Oct 1994 09:23:09 -0700

Since suicide is the topic here, I thought that people might be
interested to know that there is a very popular book in Japan by Tsurumi
Wataru called the Complete Manual of Suicide. In the book the author
states his philosophy that there are some people trying to cope with life
in Japanese society for whom suicide is a viable option. He gives
several case studies of people with miserable lives who finally decided
on suicide, and then discusses the different ways of committing suicide,
giving instructions on how to do it successfully. Of course, the
Japanese do not have any religious proscription against suicide, and at
one time suicide was thought to be an honorable thing under certain

What is interesting about the book is that Wataru seems to be taking a
different perspective on suicide than is normally thought to be the one
shared by the Japanese. Unfortunately, the book is not available in
English yet, although I hear that it may be published here in the
future. I think that for anthropologists interested in suicide, it would
make a very interesting reference. An excerpt was translated in Harper's
Magazine (January 1994). I also heard that Newsweek and Asiaweek have
covered it, although I have no idea which issues.