The Suicide Boom

Kenji Chiga

2017 - 2018

In August, 2011, my friend disappeared.

He was found two weeks later. During those two weeks, he was visiting places called "suicide spots", such as the Aokigahara and Tojinbo. He was looking for a place to die.

He seemed to be recovering afterwards, with the support of friends and family, but, in the end, he left this world in August, 2015. Without talking to anyone, and leaving nothing.

The way he took his life was by a suicide method which was often talked about at the time.people thought it is easy and painless way.

Our psyche is sometimes deprived of its life by the "mind virus" which affects it.

Since Goethe published "The Sorrows of Young Werther" in 1774, suicides imitating the protagonist of the novel occurred one after another among young people.

Love suicides became frequent in the early 1700s in Japan.

At the time, the chain of love suicides spreading almost like an infectious disease was called the "love suicide tuberculosis".

History repeats itself, and emotions almost similar to an admiration for suicide continued being fueled afterwards.

It spreads like a virus throughout society, from the brain of one person to another.

In 1974, sociologist David P. Phillips named the phenomenon which causes these imitative suicides "the Werther effect".

In 2000, WHO published "How to report suicide cases in ways which prevent suicide". In other words, a guideline on suicide media reporting.

Among the items listed in the guideline as those which may "cause a chain of suicides" are posting photographs and wills, and reporting details concerning the location and method, but, from that time to the present age, things such as these have been reported numerous times for suicides of famous people and suicides which gather people's attention.

Words and tales accompanying suicide change in form and spread, influencing people's behavior when they face difficulties.

When mentally unstable and in the gap between "I want to die" and "I want to live", the "inevitable end" death lets us see presents a temptation.

I'm not saying that suicide is necessarily a bad thing, but there are no possibilities if you aren't alive.

Through this project, I'm considering how we're influenced by people other than ourselves, and how photographs and various other visual expressions and stories affect suicide. Suicide story is the subject of an enormous amount of attention as a story to be consumed.but we should consider about "invisible danger" of this impact of "story".

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  • As long as we belong to a society, we take actions that are influenced by past events and cultures within that society. It spreads quickly from person to person as if infected by a virus. This image uses a projector to project a dot image created from a female portrait used in a press that triggered a suicide swarm in 1933.
    Events that happened in the past are live in us as an invisible virus.

  • My friend's mother. He committed suicide. I went to his hometown on a ferry and visited his parents' home.
    Family suicide leaves a significant impact on family members.

  • My friend has visited several suicide landmarks in 2011 seeking a place to die. This is a photo I took during the same trip. Black and white is based on the fact that a person in a desperate situation said “the color has disappeared from sight”.
    As I proceeded with this project, I had to drive myself into the same feeling.

  • My friend who works as a saralyman has a lethal dose of medicine in his room so that he can die at any time. Every day is, he said that he can live because there is a sense of security that dying can always be done.

  • A friend who lost his mother to suicide. He was forced to unexpected difficult situation after his mother died because of a suicide in a railroad. He must pay damages to the railway company. As a result, he was chased mentally. He also thought about committing suicide like his mother.

  • We have inherited not only biological genes but also cultural genes from the past.
    As long as you belong to a certain society, what has happened in the society so far will affect our way of living. In this image, a archive photograph of a man from the early Showa period taken on the platform and a picture of an office worker standing on the platform of the station that I took were superimposed.

  • Scanning a negative that is a volcano of a tourist spot(not Miharayama), an error occurred and this rainbow color was appeared.
    Originally it was a photo with the impression of a crater with only brown and yellow, but this error added a beautiful impression to the image.
    The same thing is happening in reports and stories about suicide.
    Beautiful words and ampressions were added to the suicide story.

  • I actually visited in 2017 to research the cluster suicide of Miharayama in 1933. This is a picture of a person climbing a mountain to see the volcano.I took this at that time. I imagined the figure of a person who climbed the mountain to commit suicide in the past from the figure of climbing alone with strong rain and wind and poor visibility.

  • In 1933, after the woman suicide at Miharayama several magazines were published that deal with this incident as sensationaly. One of them, the “婦人世界”, placed an advertisement in the newspaper.
    There are many interesting headlines, and there is a photo of a woman who committed suicide. Through these magazines, newspaper articles, and conversations with the people who read them, the idea of ​​a suicide trip to Oshima was propagated, resulting in 944 imitators.