Russian Official Claims Link Between Anime and Child Suicide
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Warning: this story contains statements relating to thoughts of suicide. If you or a loved one is in the U.S. and in need of help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
An expert at Russia's state-sponsored Center for Protecting Children Against Online Threats appeared on RIA Novosti, the country's state-run news agency, claiming a link between anime and teenage suicide. Yelena Ivanova appeared on the news program citing that Japan makes a lot of "quality cartoons" but that over exposure is dangerous for teens, especially if the show's characters are also teenagers who are "homosexuals, [that] smoke and drink and even cut their veins." Ivanova did not mention any specific anime series in her examples.
The news article classifies anime fandom as an "anime-cult" and one of the main ways to "manipulate children" into suicidal ideation, rebellion against their parents, and homosexual tendencies. It goes on to say that children exposed to the content isolate themselves, run away from home, and may engage in self-harm.
The RIA Novosti news agency's program recounts stories of suicidal children and teenagers influenced by anime but were saved after treatment by the Center for Protecting Children Against Online Threats.
One of the stories recounts the experience of fifth-grader Nastia (name changed) whose art slowly degraded into violent imagery after she began drawing in an anime style. She allegedly watched an anime starring a character with a super-power who "wants to commit suicide but can't." The article also mentions Nastia became "obsessed" with a male character and began discussing the story and character online with other fans. Allegedly the community turned on the child, claiming they'd kill off her beloved character if she didn't draw the violent images they wanted.
Strangely, the Center for Protecting Children Against Online Threats points its finger at the U.S. and China for producing the "harmful content" despite that anime is usually defined as animation produced in Japan.
The Center's head Vladimir Rogov wrote on social media, "It's best to restrict access to questionable groups: even if they're playing in the background — their content will slowly 'seep into the brain."
A link between anime and suicide was previously suggested by international radio broadcast service The Voice of Russia in 2012. Olga Mahovskaya, a youth psychology specialist at the time, said "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.