The latest school suicide scandal to rock Japan has taken on an outrageous new dimension as it is alleged a teacher told a suicidal schoolboy who went on to kill himself later in the day in response to bullying by his peers that he “didn’t have the guts to do it” and that he “should do it if he really could.”
That the 13-year-old Nagoya schoolboy hurled himself off the 11-storey building where he lived in final effort to escape what is believed to have been relentless school bullying is unfortunately no longer surprising, though witness testimony about the conduct of his classmates and – in particular – his teacher has shocked many.
According to these accounts, “A-kun started chanted ‘die, die, die!’ at him and then B-chan started it as well. When he said ‘I’ll kill myself’ his homeroom teacher just told him ‘just try it if you have the guts.'”
These exchanges apparently persisted until mere hours before his death: “Sometimes people would tell him to ‘die’ and he would just be like ‘well, I’ll die then.’ The teacher said ‘there’s no way you can do it’ and that was about 3PM the day he did it…”
His teacher maintains none of these exchanges ever took place and she never even spoke to the boy on the day of his death:
“I heard no such conversation on the day of his death, and I did not speak to him directly at all that day and did not brush him off in any conversation.”
She also maintains he never sought help from her (as he claimed in his suicide note), and that she was unaware of any bullying at all in her class in the first place.
For once the school board did at least concede some bullying may have taken place, noting in its press conference that “from his note alleging multiple unspecified individuals told him to ‘die’ we cannot doubt some sort of bullying may have been a factor” and pledging to investigate further.
A classmate describes him as having been “A cheerful and kind boy… we were supposed to return home together as usual but oddly he said it was ‘impossible’ that day. That was the last time. Maybe if I had pushed him to come we could have talked it over and avoided it…” – although under the circumstances it is easy to imagine he finds himself with many more friends in death than he ever had in life.
With suicide the leading cause of death for young Japanese and bullying endemic in Japanese schools nobody seems that surprised by his suicide, although the alleged behaviour of his teacher is another matter:
“Yet another villainous teacher!”
“Japan, where even the teachers push kids into suicide. Wouldn’t this be a criminal offence of promoting suicide if a non-teacher did it?”
“6 months to 7 years for the crime of instigating suicide, which includes acts instilling in someone the final determination to commit suicide.”
“If it is true the teacher was pretty much directly responsible for pulling the trigger.”
“What did this kid think would happen when he tattled to the teacher about their bullying? That she’d actually care or intervene?”
“The teacher is supposed to have been his one ally against them… instead she dared him to kill himself. No wonder he lost all hope…”
“I cannot believe anyone would think it appropriate to respond to that kind of threat like this!”
“Her attitude doesn’t seem to differ from her pupils.”
“Now it’s her turn to show us her guts!”
“Typical teacher banter isn’t though? Return like for like, but this time someone took things seriously.”
“Honestly I doubt she meant this to happen. Had she intended any malice she would have arranged things a little better.”
“Some people always maintain that the ones who say they’ll do it rather than just doing it aren’t serious, but I don’t think calling a depressed child out on the basis of this is really sensible…”
“She was also claiming there was no bullying in her class though.”
“She also says she didn’t ‘directly’ address him, which makes me wonder.”
“I can’t believe she’ll worm her way out of this!”
“Pretty sure she can’t get away with this one. Too many witnesses are coming out…”
“What’s going to happen to all those kids who told the media what happened…”
“What about the kids who were actually doing the bullying here?”