Japanese “detergent suicide” technique finds way into US

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A suicide technique called “Detergent Suicide” from Japan has become so popular that it is slowly seeping into the United States via the internet; with emergency workers alarmed over the potential for innocent bystanders to be affected by the technique, according to Wired.

This method of suicide that uses simple household chemicals to produce a very deadly gas known as hydrogen sulphide has become a grisly fad in Japan last year, with at least 500 men, women and children taking their life in the first half of 2008 as instructions have been posted on the internet.

Editor’s Note: If you are suffering from depression, have feelings of sadness or just need to talk to somebody, please contact Lifeline at 13 11 14.

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One website (as you can see) has been reported to have created an application that will help you to calculate the correct portions of each ingredient based on the size of the room’s volume, and has made a PDF of the instructions with a ready-made warning sigh to alert neighbours and emergency workers to the hazard. TECHGEEK.com.au has refused to reveal the name of the website.

Signs that this is happening in the United States came in August when a 23-year-old man from California was found dead in his car behind a shopping centre, with his car doors locked, windows rolled up and a warning sign being posted on one of the windows. Police then evacuated everyone from the shopping centre before a hazmat crew with chemical suits extracted the body and cleaned up the scene.

Another body with the similar technique of suicide was found in Georgia – inside the car, and a warning sign. It was identified to have two buckets of a yellow unknown substance.

However, according to Wired, the cases did not connect until a Texas surgeon realised the new and dangerous suicide method had arrived; and experts are now warning emergency workers as the new method may also kill them too if they are not careful.

With this new technique, Japan’s suicide rate has exceeded to 30,000 since 1998. However, Japan’s battle with suicide may have gotten worse as the economic crisis has left people to ponder thoughts of suicide.

According to the USA Today newspaper; nearly 71 percent are male, 73 percent are 40-years-old or over, and more than 57% are jobless – as in Japan, a suicide of a former “salaryman” is considered to be a “rational decision”, according to Masahiro Yamada, sociologist for Chuo University in Tokyo, talking to the newspaper.

This is because the life insurance companies pay out to his beneficiaries when the man commits suicide, and they also pay the home mortgages when the main breadwinner of the family dies – even if it is a suicide. “If he dies, the rest of the family gets money,” Yamada said. “If he continues to live without a job, they will lose their house.”

“Suicide is not considered a sin … We’ve made it a bit of a virtue,” he adds.

Because of the rise in the number of suicides, Police have asked that internet service providers to ban websites that promote suicide. This, however, has been met with mixed success.

The Americanised version of the “detergent suicides” uses a common insecticide instead of bath sulphur, as that is not available in America – however, this doesn’t mean that the gas is less dangerous for people nearby. The suicide has managed to gain some widespread attention to several Usenet groups, with one group Alt.Suicide have people sharing tips and tricks.

Editor’s Note: If you are suffering from depression, have feelings of sadness or just need to talk to somebody, please contact Lifeline at 13 11 14.

Top Image: Beacon Media News/Terry Miller.