23 July 2010 ~ 3 Comments

Live from Locohama, S2/E28: Survival of the Suicidal

Well, it’s natsu yasumi (summer vacation) for us ALTs, thus the pause in my Reality Show. I’ve been spending most of my vacation thus far knee deep in my summer writing project / catharsis / purging / self-therapy series I call: Hi! My name is Loco…and I am a racist! For those of you who, despite it drifting slightly off topic, have hung in there and read it  (8 parts so far) thanks. And thanks for your encouraging comments, as well.

I got an email from Akiyama-sensei last week asking me to come in today to help one of the students with her speech. That’s right, people, it’s Speech Contest time…again! Naturally I agreed. She’s such a sweetie, the student, and an over-achiever, to boot. She has edited the speech down to the 5 minute time limit practically on her own and has already memorized a third of it. Sugoi deshou?

Anyway, after helping her out I decided to hang around a while in the suzushii-ness (air conditioned coolness) of school C’s office, and surf the net.

I looked up, about an hour ago to find the principal looking over my shoulder.

“Loco sensei, can I speak with you for a moment?”

“Uh….sure,” I replied. He speaks no English so I put on my Nihongo cap. It’s tight, but sometimes I can squeeze my big head into it.

“This is an article from the Mainichi news yesterday. Can you read it?”

“Some of it…” I said

“Well, it’s about a student at a private Junior HS / High School in Chiba…” he began, and proceeded to relate the key information to me. (see Mainichi link above for full story)

“So, when did he kill himself ? Wednesday?”

“Ummm…not Wednesday. It was in 2008…”

“2 years ago? Why was it in the paper yesterday?”

“Apparently, the teacher continued playing the game with students even after the incident.”

“Ah…I see…” I said.

It was what has become an all-too familiar tale of a predisposed child using something or being inspired by something otherwise innocuous to some dark end, and in doing so giving that thing a lethal stigma

I too play Hangman with my kids sometimes and they love it. But the idea of some student getting an idea of how to off themselves based on having played the game is something I…

I consider many things when I make an activity or play a game, but rarely do I consider the suicidal kids that might be looking for a way to meet their maker other than the most conventional methods.

I guess I should…


The principal has no choice, however. So, Hangman has been banned. I told him, no problem. I’ll play a similar game but I’ll change the name and change the drawing to something…more pleasant, like Anpanman. He agreed and thanked me for my understanding. I told him this is a common occurrence back home. Many relatively innocuous activities have been virtually outlawed in America because they’ve been loosely connected (usually by some crafty ass lawyers) to deaths.

And, now, hangman has gone that same route.

“Syouganai jyan,” he said. (Whatchagonnado.)

“Sou da ne.” I agreed.

Long live the suicidal…

And may that student, along with the game of Hangman, Rest in Peace.


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