Shoko Nakagawa Shares Her Teen Experiences with Bullying, Suicidal Thoughts
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Voice actress and singer Shoko Nakagawa published a book on August 8 aimed at teens who have experienced bullying and suicidal thoughts. The book, which is titled 'Shinun janēzo!!' Ijimerareteiru kimi wa zettai warukunai ('Don't you ever die!!' Dear Bullying Victims: You're Absolutely Not Awful), delves into some of Nakagawa's own experiences feeling alienated and depressed as a teen, and is part of a suicide prevention initiative.
Warning: The following article describes bullying and suicidal thoughts in detail.
Nakagawa also spoke to the Yomiuri Shimbun in detail about her teen experiences. She said that since elementary school she had always loved drawing pictures from manga and video games. This was fine in elementary school, but when she entered a private all-girls middle school, this changed, and the popular girls in her class started to scorn her and call her an "otaku." The badmouthing, both to Nakagawa's face and behind her back, escalated to such a degree where even the girls Nakagawa was on speaking terms with started to avoid her.
"I didn't want to go to school, but I didn't want to admit that I was being bullied, so I never told anyone about it out of shame," says Nakagawa. "I felt sick whenever I went to school, so I often threw up in the toilet. Whenever that happened, I could hear voices saying, 'Omigosh, is she throwing up again?'"
Nakagawa recalls that about halfway through her third year in middle school, she discovered that her shoe box at school had been maliciously tampered with. One day, her shoes went missing. In tears, she told her teacher about what had happened, revealing for the first time the extent of the bulling. The teacher gave her a new pair of shoes, but the next day they demanded that she pay for it. "That was when I realized I couldn't even trust the adults," Nakagawa says. "I stopped going to school and didn't even turn up to the graduation ceremony." She also described this incident on her blog, lamenting that she has no good memories of her middle school graduation.
In the interview, Nakagawa recalls having suicidal thoughts, to the extent that she even planned her suicide. Ultimately, however, she decided not to go through with it, a decision which she strongly feels was for the best. "When I was being bullied, what helped me get through the pain was drawing pictures, listening to music, reading manga, playing games, and surfing the internet. So even when you feel like you want to die, please don't turn your eyes from the things you like that made an impact on you. If you continue living, even just little things like eating nice food or looking forward to an upcoming game release can make some days feel a tiny bit better. I want you to keep living, one day at a time."
Nakagawa describes her book as a message for teens. The book contains a mixture of prose and manga, and the title appears to be a reference to a Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans quote "Tomarun janēzo" (Don't you ever stop), which became an internet meme in Japan. The timing of the book's publication aligns with a period of heightened teen suicide rates in Japan, as the summer vacation period draws to a close.
Nakagawa has guest starred in 12 consecutive Pokémon anime films, including last year's film, Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us. She is also well known as the singer of the Gurren OP theme song "Sorairo Days."
If you are struggling with bullying or thoughts of suicide, please don't wait to get help. Here are some resources where you can talk to someone who cares about you at no cost.
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun