Saturday, April 26, 2008

A clean sweep

I was intrigued by the story of a Japanese girl who committed suicide using household cleaner - a phenomenon known, apparently, as "detergent suicide". I hate to be cavalier about something as serious as this, but although suicide has never even crossed my mind as an option, I am quite fascinated by it: for instance, did you know that the number one method of committing suicide in Hong Kong is by, er, throwing yourself from a tall building? The second one is by burning charcoal - a modish method which is very Asian in style and which led to calls for bans on the sale of barbecue charcoal in garages, and which Hong Kongers seem to have copied (like Bathing Ape, and Hello Kitty, and other infantile trends) from Japan, after a spate of similar suicides there.

This raises one of the central issues about new reporting of such events - it often seems to serve pour encourager les autres, and no doubt even now desperate teenagers of every nationality are frantically searching the Internet to find out how this 14 year old managed to pull it off in such spectacular style using ingredients found in the bathroom cupboard. So: report the details, perpetuate the problem.

I was led in the end to a most peculiar Wikipedia page on suicide methods - which seemed to be to be nothing more than a "how-to" guide for those looking for an easy way out. The strange nature of this entire entry, which lists different methods in alphabetical order starting with "Beheading", is illustrated by the following entry under the distinctly American-sounding "vehicular impact":

"Jumping in front of a fast-moving vehicle, especially a large one, such as a truck or train, can prove fatal. A classic example of suicide involves one tying oneself to railroad tracks in order to be run over by an oncoming train. The self control required to stay on the tracks as the train approaches can be quite immense, and the result quite traumatizing to the driver of the vehicle."

Thanks for that! I had no idea!


Mummy said...

How on earth does one behead oneself? Presumably it takes the construction of some sort of device with a pulley and rope system, some counter weights etc. After all of this, surely the sheer sense of achievement must make life worth living.

And you can't tie yourself to the train tracks... think about it, you always need a free hand.

M wants t know why asphyxiation isn't before beheading.

I have never thought Wikipedia to be a very accurate source of information.

LottieP said...

Good question (all of them). The alpha order of the article has gone completely awry, with "apocarteretis" (death by stravation) appearing halfway down the list for no apparent reason. In addition, the list has clearly been written by, er, enthusiasts.

Rubbish in, rubbish out! But I am fond of Wikipedia, as a somewhat unreliable source of very interesting information. And I am very proud of the entry I created (on my home village) which has been taken out of my hands and dramatically expanded.

Claire said...

A wikipedia entry on methods of suicide would seem to indicate that there are people out there who make it their business to educate others on the subject. Oi! Go and do your own suicide and stop interfering in other people's.

Er, hope none of the contributors are reading this.

LottieP said...

I think you're safe even if they are reading, since they are entirely focused on harming themselves, not others. Washing powder murder, anyone?

Sadly, I've had quite a few hits from people looking for "Detergent suicide". One poor soul was even looking for "Detergent suicide ingredients". If you have come here looking for a means to end it all, you've come to the wrong place. If you have come here looking for pictures of shoes, on the other hand...

Mr Creighton said...

Sydney train-drivers get a day of stress leave whenever it is their misfortune to encounter (and kill, albeit accidentally) a human on the track; a reliable source once informed me that (some) drivers look forward to the typical suicide days in anticipation of a holiday.

Mr Creighton said...

But kids these days don't even know they are BORN, with their tubular internets and nintendo pokemons. Don't they know that Dick Dastardly is required to tie one to the train tracks, and that only someone with scant regard for the classics would attempt otherwise?

LottieP said...

Hello, Mr Creighton. I remember being bemused by the signs on London Underground: "Finsbury Park station closed due to passenger action". I thought at first that this meant some sort of strike by commuters in protest at the conditions; but the passenger action was throwing oneself on to the line.

I must admit I am still puzzling about the train tracks too... could the whole article possibly be a sly joke? In which case, bravo, and maybe someone will laugh at it and think twice about topping themselves.

LottieP said...

Since a sizeable number of people are still coming to this post by searching for "detergent suicide ingredients, I feel compelled to add this link, which you should follow.