Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Guest Blog: The Sociality of Suicide: Shared Life and Shared Death in a “Virtual” World

You may have noticed the Anthsisters have been very quiet lately.. spending all our time writing and finishing our Master's thesis' hasn't left much time for blogging! However, we have not forgotten about our readers so we asked our friend Tom, an honours student in Cultural Anthropology to guest blog for us.

Every year at Victoria University, the Cultural Anthropology Department runs an essay writing competition for third-year students who are majoring in Cultural Anthropology - the best essays from third-year students are judged by the Cultural Anthropology lecturers. Tom won the 2014 essay competition with his essay that explores the role of online forums and suicide in Japan, so we asked him to turn his winning essay into a blog post for us. Enjoy the read and post your thoughts and comments below!

~ Tayla and Hollie


Tom Loffhagen is currently an Honours student in Cultural Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington. With a background in the study of both Anthropology and Japan, his focus is cultural narratives of depression and suicide in Japan, politics and power in diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and ethnopsychiatry. His other interests include good food to cook and a good book to read. 
________________

As a student of both Anthropology and Japanese I have acquired an acute interest in what many have called an over-aestheticisation of suicide in Japanese culture - from heroic tales of seppuku by Edo Period Samurai to the poetic death of acclaimed author Yukio Mishima – the events of his life and his dramatic death by his own sword could well be mistaken for the plot of one of his own novels. Since the late 1990’s Japan has seen a remarkable increase in its rate of suicide, with it currently being the leading cause of death among people under the age of 30. Many have cited this so-called “positive cultural valence” given to suicide as cause of Japan’s high suicide rate, an argument that reduces transmission of cultural knowledge to causation. Naturally, this argument has shifted to fit the 21st Century.

With the ever-growing influence of the Internet, online forums relating to suicide and self-harm have become extremely prevalent, with tens of thousands of Japanese language sites offering methods and advice for those with suicidal intentions. However, not only are these forums being used for the sharing of methods and advice, suicide forums such as “Ghetto” and “Suicide Site: A Relaxing Place for Suicidal People” are allowing those with suicidal intentions to seek out strangers with whom to die. Unsurprisingly, this grave trend has garnered significant media and academic attention; the first case of what has been named netto shinju, or Internet group suicide, was reported in 2003 when a man and two women were found dead in an apartment - the man had reportedly invited others to join him in death over one such forum. They had burned charcoal briquettes in a shichirin stove with the windows and doors of the apartment sealed with tape, and subsequently succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Historically, group suicide or suicide pacts are not a new phenomenon – practices such as shinju, or lover’s suicide find their etiology in the Edo Period – however, what is novel about Internet group suicide is that strangers, rather than family or lovers are sought out to share in self-destruction, implying a degree of sociality.

The rise of suicide forums, and in turn online group suicide, has placed a renewed spotlight on the issue of suicide in Japan. In a country with a rising pathology of social withdrawal called hikikomori, almost one million adolescents and adults are said to be recluse in their homes. An increase in online connectivity and saturation of other digital media such as television, films, and computer games, has often been cited as a significant factor in such social isolation and disconnectedness. However, this creates an implicit dichotomy of “real” and “virtual” sociality as it not only denies online interaction to hold any meaning, but also glosses over the technologies themselves as being shaped by cultural and social practices and meanings.

Ethnographies of suicide forums by Chikako Ozawa-de Silva (2008; 2010) and Ai Ikunaga, et al. (2013) have shown that users largely present complaints of existential suffering and social isolation. According to Ozawa-de Silva (2008; 2010) and Ikunaga, et al. (2013), this social isolation and disconnectedness has played a key role in their suicidal ideation and also their want to die alongside another. Although the Western notion of suicide is often portrayed as an act of individualism and autonomy, a Japanese conception of selfhood can create a seemingly paradoxical fear to die alone, or a desire to relinquish autonomy and thus responsibility - thus while one shares life, one also shares death. This notion that Japanese selfhood is created with an emphasis on sociality, or the social self, is important when confronting the paradox of group suicide; on the one hand there is the desire to end one’s life because of social isolation, what Emile Durkheim has termed ‘Epicurean’ suicide, and on the other there is the wish to die with an other, a connection through self-destruction. There are two arguments that polarise the possible outcomes of this kind of online sociality. Many advocacy forums are moderated to the degree that views that do not align with the advocacy of suicide are not tolerated and deleted, and that these “communities of affirmation create a culture through identification of core beliefs” (Neizan 2013). Lawrence Kirymayer also argues “isolated individuals may understand themselves differently when they communicate with people experiencing similar conditions, but that certain experiences, affective states, and beliefs may be reinforced or amplified”. In this way there are processes that are much stronger than the simple access to information, one can find an outlet for the legitimisation, affirmation, and normalisation of suicide. However, in contrast to this Chiyako Ozawa-de Silva argues that advocacy sites could create the same social support that many preventative sites serve to. The utility of preventative sites has been evident and utilised in many areas of health, from depression to sexual health, and it has been shown that the greatest utility of these sites has been in stigmatised health conditions. In a similar vein advocacy sites can have the ability to mitigate the feelings of social isolation and disconnectedness through interaction that creates meaningful bonds and a sense of community. Perhaps rather than the two arguments contradicting one another, it is more productive to understand the two concurrently, both mediated by the user of the forums. What must be said however, is that although suicide should be understood within the wider social, cultural, and historical context of any given society, the role of the internet does play an important role within that context, it is a medium that enables unfettered access to a vast array of information on suicide; it has the potential to legitimise or affirm a culture of suicide; and it has the potential also to aid in social support, to be a channel where socially isolated individuals can reconnect.
________________

References:

Berger, M.
2005 Internet Use and Stigmatised Illness. Social Science & Medicine 61: 1821–1827.
Borovoy, A.
2008 Japan’s Hidden Youths: Mainstreaming the Emotional Distressed in Japan. Cult Med Psychiatry 32: 552–576.
Burrows, R.
2010 Virtual Community Care? Social Policy and the Emergence of Computer Mediated Social Support. Information, Communication & Society, 3(1): 95-121.
Cartarescu, I.
2010 Utility of Online Communities – Ways one can benefit form one’s online life. Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology 1(2): 79-91.
Ikunaga, A.
2013 Internet Suicide in Japan: A Qualitative Content Analysis of a Suicide Bulletin Board. Transcultural Psychiatry 50(2): 280-302.
Kirmayer, L.
2013 Cultures of the Internet: Identity, Community and Mental Health. Transcultural Psychiatry 50(2): 165-191.
Kitanaka, J.
2008 Diagnosing Suicides of Resolve: Psychiatric Practice in Contemporary Japan. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 32: 152-176.
Niezan, R.
2013 Internet Suicide: Communities of Affirmation and Lethality of Communication. Transcultural Psychiatry 50(2): 303-322.

Ozawa-de Silva, C.
2008 Too Lonely to Die: Internet Suicide Pacts and Existential Suffering in Japan. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 32: 516-551.
2010 Shared Death: Self, Sociality and Internet Group Suicide in Japan. Transcultural Psychiatry 47(3): 392-418.

Wilson, S.
2002 The Anthropology of Online Communities. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 449-467.








70 comments:

  1. Nice Stuff... I Like it.... Carry on the Fantastic Work!

    Buy Generic Ampicillin Online

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your writing has impressed me. It’s simple, clear and precise. I will definitely recommend you to my friends and family. Regards and good luck


    Research paper writing service

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great Post and Nice Article.I like it.Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting article. Is there any chance I could read the original essay somewhere? If so, please e-mail me at: amivc@outlook.com

    Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the great blog.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It was very interesting content that you have posted in your blog, it gives me some wonderful insights and information about the society, and how it is really important that we should learn from it
    How to find paper writing websites worthy of your business

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! Great article you have presented here on Guest Blog: The Sociality of Suicide: Shared Life and Shared Death in a “Virtual” World. I read and enjoyed it much. Previously I got such kind of information from Rushessay.com . I am happy to read your post. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's a nice idea! I will follow your advice and do everything you've said! It's a great way out indeed. But it is better to find look at my profile phd assistance some online essay help for students

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is probably the most controversial titles for the essay that I have ever seen.
    You should probably read through this next time you gonna write something like this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing such a informative information with us. Keep on sharing the blog like this.

    PhD Thesis Writing Services, Dissertation Writing Services & Research Paper Writing Services

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks a lot for the great post here, I really enjoyed reading it a lot. The only thing that I'd like to add is is you are looking for some writing service, then make sure to check this extraessay review here to avoid fake & scam.

    ReplyDelete
  12. EMV technology for credit cards is coming to the US but there are many stumbling blocks to actual implementation. This article examines the possibilities and time tables.assignment writing

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi,Such a nice blog and i appreciate your all efforts about your thoughts. it's really good work. well done. I am a writer and editor, associated with MyAssignmenthelp since a decade. My site offers you a high-quality dissertation help by PhD experts . Welcome)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, such a difficult blog. Thank you for the dispute.
    I try to help youth to keep on track by helping them to do my accounting homework and hope I contribute enough. Thanks again! Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The elevator is normally found at ground level, but by jumping up and ringing the bell at the top you can call the elevator up to you. The catch at level one is the bouncing rivet.
    suicide guy hack

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great Post and Nice Article.I like it.Thanks for sharing.


    Send Flowers To Colombia

    ReplyDelete
  17. That top photo is a polaroid i took last weekend, hanging out at gas works park in seattle at sunset. great New Balance 998 Unisex Running Shoes Navy Blue / Claret / Brown M998DSA with some good friends... have a wonderful week!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this Zapatillas Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini Hombres Blanco / Negro / Naranja article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well..

    ReplyDelete
  19. Good post but I was wondering Nike Arrowz Herren Laufschuhe Grau / Schwarz 902813 010 you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. You left me wowed, I feel luck I found your website. Keep producing the great contentOnline Research Paper Help
    Online Research Paper Help

    ReplyDelete
  21. Awesome website with awesome articles keeps up the good work.
    buy dissertation online

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks. best website builder

    ReplyDelete
  23. This post is not just informative but impressive also. The post is so convincing that it created an urge to choose My Assignment Help services. You can email us at Info@Myassignmenthelpau.Com or Phone Number: +61-2-8005-8227

    ReplyDelete
  24. A high-standard post with all imperative information about Assignment Help UK services. Looking forward to avail the premium services.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The blog post is worth reading and I would like to appreciate your efforts for making us familiar with the features of a mobile app development company. I would like to refer one more company, AppSquadz. It caters alike services like you pursue to the customers.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Excellent and nice post. It will beneficial for everyone. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. Avail No 1 custom essay writing help UK from certified PhD writers. It is extremely helpful for me. You can email us at info@ukdissertationhelp.co.uk or Phone Number - 020 8144 9988

    ReplyDelete
  27. Livewebtutors aims at providing the students with a one stop solution for all the academic related issues. The company has Livewebtutors is an online Assignment Help and assignment writing service offering expert assignment help. Hire Australian assignment writing experts.
    visit now:- assignment help

    ReplyDelete
  28. Amaze your professors this term with an A+ grade by availing our science homework help. We have top experts who can draft your homework prudently. We also have domain-specific qualified writers on board who can ease your burden instantly. Trust us and you will never have to look for an answer to why it takes so long for you to do your Science Homework. If you get our perfect science answers for homework, achieving academic success will no more be a hassle.
    We have served thousands of clients who needed assistance for writing cover letters for different purposes. You may have the need for writing cover letters for job application or you might be applying for a specific course at a reputed institute. Whatever the purpose of writing a cover letter is, you will get the necessary help from us.
    Also, you can use an paraphrasing tool to rewrite your resume and cover letter for a better job opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  29. If you think the requirements of your essay paper is too complicated to deal with, you can simply ask us to “help write my essay”. Our team of experienced writers is well-versed with all sorts of essay writing requirements. In fact, they are familiar with all kinds of essays (narrative, expository, argumentative, comparative, etc.). So, you can rely on us for support.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you for sharing this informative post.MyAssignmenthelp.com is giving assignment help to students.we are already trusted by thousands of students who struggle to write their academic papers and also by those students who simply want best research paper writing service to save their time and make life easy.

    ReplyDelete
  31. ABC Assignment Help is an incomparable online All assignment help company delivering excellent academic assignments, essays, coursework and reports. Through a team of over 3000 subject experts we ensure individual attention to every student making the assignment help experience completely personalized in nature. With our round the clock services, you can be assured of high grades every time.

    ReplyDelete
  32. This was a good post. I appreciate you sharing it. Keep up the good work. Interior Design Firms Victoria BC

    ReplyDelete
  33. At Myassignmenthelp with our customized services we cater to every individual’s educational requirement and content that is well researched and the quality of the information is versatile our expert academicians in Myassignmenthelp look into every detail of what is required and work efficiently into inculcating the most academically approved information that can be used for your Assignments.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This was a good post to read. It was informative and well written. Best Painters Saskatoon

    ReplyDelete
  35. MyAssignmentHelp has an exceptional panel of professional, expert writers from all over Australia, UK and etc. MyAssignmentHelp is the leading online assignment help service that have been successfully serving the students of Australia from a couple of years now.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Everything should be based on fact. The arrangement of fact and information is not an easy task sometimes it becomes a very tough task to do in such cases student can go through online My Assignment Help , and these services are very reliable, and they can provide information about any topic related to the academics. If you need any college level Assignment Help at reliable quality with better work. Kindly visit our website.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for taking the time to discuss and share it with us. I wish more people would read this. We have an expert SEO team with over 12+ years of experience. If you have any requirement regarding Search Engine Optimization then you can contact us at +1-877-659-9068.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you for this wonderful information looking forward for more. If you are in need for online assignment writing assistance for an intricate assignment and thesis topic, then avail our assignment writing service in Australia. and save your time to relax and do your studies properly. Our My Assignment Help online service in Australia has earned huge popularity among both domestic and international students. There’s no better place in the Australia than FirstAssignmenthelp. Contact us now to buy assignments online in the Australia Leave your tensions to us and enjoy your free time.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Keep up the good work. This article is very impressive.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I appreciate this write up. Sharing information with others is good. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

    Mathematics Assignment help

    Nursing Assignment help

    Engineering assignment help

    Accounting Assignment Help

    Law assignment help

    ReplyDelete
  42. I appreciate this write up. Sharing information with others is good. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
  43. MyAssignmentHelp being one of the most active assignment help websites has a pool of over 4500+ assignment experts from Australia, UK and US.
    Writing a thesis is really a stressful job, and students find it tough to give the big push to start it. But now with MyAssignmenthelp by your side, you do not have to feel stressed up and worry about your thesis anymore. We give you all the needed help with thesis writing service. Take a look at some of the key points in the procedure that we follow to give you your required malaysian thesis help online.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Amazing post. I am so impressed. Could never think of such a thing is possible with it...I think you have a great knowledge especially while dealings with such subjects.

    Architecture assignment help
    Biology Assignment Help
    Engineering Assignment help
    Biotechnology Assignment help
    Computer Science Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  45. Excellent information Providing by your Article, thank you for taking the time to share with us such a nice article. Amazing insight you have on this, it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists. Kindly visit livewebtutors website we providing best Assignment Help services in USA.

    ReplyDelete
  46. My friend promised to buy me a cup of coffee for referring him to your site. Thank you for coffee. Kindly keep updating us on new articles. Looking for water heaters reviews, best brands, and models? then you have landed at the right place. Heating water has its struggles especially if you are using the wrong heaters. Visit Best Electric Tank Water Heater for more.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you for bringing to a halt my long search topic. I really benefited from your content. If you are experiencing trouble striking a balance between your busy academic life and handling your online classes, you can get help from a professional who will take online classes on your behalf. It doesn’t matter the kind of help you need, whether it is passing your exam, finishing your assignments or even the entire classwork, you can get help here at Online Class Help .

    ReplyDelete
  48. Those students who are searching for private tutor in UK can contact with our experts. We are best services providers over the country. Our experts are available round the clock, students can contact them at any time.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Nice article. In order for one to graduate with a doctorate degree in nursing practice he/she must complete a capstone project. Notably, A DNP capstone is a scholarly project that demonstrates that a give student has mastered nursing specialty. Specifically, when writing a DNP capstone project, you are expected to synthesize the knowledge that has been learnt in this program and utilize conventional methods in solving a concrete nursing problem. Visit on DNP Capstone Writing Help for more

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hello there, great stuff you’ve shared here I will be checking regularly for more articles. But wait! When it becomes hard to manage your online assignment, availing Online Assignment Help is the best choice. Many students often fail to submit their assignment before deadlines and end up scoring low grades because they didn’t have enough time to write the assignment given on time and satisfactorily. Visit Assignment Help . for assistance.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Every single student is searching for a proper essay generator who can understand the need of the work and do the essay completely flawless. However, it often happens that students fail to figure out who can be one of the best instant essay typer for their work.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This is the greatest articles I have come across on internet. Most nurses work and study at the same time which makes them lack time to work on their nursing papers. Nursing also covers a wide range of topics that need thorough research especially when students have nursing papers to work not. Do not fret when Do my Nursing Paper . is here. Our team of writers is skilled and knowledgeable in all nursing areas.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Your article is attractive and informative. Thank you for sharing. Any student pursuing nursing should be passionate about it. Even though it is important to attain high scores, there’s a need to go the extra mile in delivery of services to the patients which is a skill that may not be learned in school. Also, nursing students need to understand nursing concepts and be able to implement them in real life. They have to carry out a lot of research especially when they have assignments to handle. Learn more from Nursing Paper Writers .

    ReplyDelete