Report Linking Russian Suicides with Anime Criticized
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
The international radio broadcast service The Voice of Russia posted an article this week that discusses a possible link between anime and a recent wave of suicides among young people in Russia. In the ten days prior to the original article's posting, six junior high school students committed suicide in Russia. The article noted that most of them had a strong interest in Japanese anime while they came from good families and received good grades.
Olga Mahovskaya, a youth psychology specialist, commented in the article that "anime by itself cannot be the cause of teenage suicides." However, she asserted that because anime blurs the line between the real world and "virtual culture" and "romanticizes death," anime viewing could contribute to teenagers' decisions to end their lives.
Japanese anime and manga fans have responded to the article on forums and blog sites. One person replied that "for young children, I think Japanese late-night anime is no good. But really, something like Dragon Ball or One Piece might be OK. Naruto might be questionable." Mahovskaya said that stories of girls joining together to commit suicide (as a mark of their never-ending friendship) are prevalent in anime, which prompted a fan to write, "I've never seen an anime like that!" Another reader reacted, "I don't understand, I don't think there are anime that endorse suicide."
The article reported that 1,500 deaths result from 4,000 teenage suicide attempts in Russia every year. Japan's relatively high rate of youth suicides spurred the Japanese government to begin publishing an annual "Suicide Counter-Measure White Paper" in 2007.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history