Oct 13 2004

Gassed in cars

By Chris Hughes



NINE young people died in an apparent suicide pact after meeting on the internet.

Seven were found yesterday slumped in a van by a mountain.

And two more were found 60 miles away in the back of a car.

In the van, a woman sat in the driver's seat while two other women and four men sat in rows behind her.

The windows were sealed on the inside with tape and four charcoal stoves were found in the vehicle.

Police believe they were used to poison the occupants with carbon monoxide. The van was found outside Tokyo after a friend of one of the dead raised the alarm when he received an email hinting at suicide.

At the same time, two women were discovered dead at a temple in Yokosuka, 60 miles from Tokyo. Two charcoal stoves were found.

It is thought to be Japan's biggest group suicide and has sparked fears of copycat internet deaths. As many as 32,000 Japanese have killed themselves in the past year.

Suicide pacts have been made worldwide over the web since at least the late 90s. But they are particularly frequent in Japan.

The National Police Agency says 45 people killed themselves in groups after meeting online between January 2003 and June 2004.

Some websites offer "shopping lists" of things needed for self-asphyxiation as well as packs to buy.


© Copyright by Trinity Mirror Digital Media Limited 2001.





Aerial view shows the car covered with a blue sheet (L) in which four men and three women were found dead, at a parking spot on the mountainside in Minano town, north of Tokyo October 12, 2004. Japanese police said on Tuesday they were investigating a group suicide in which seven people who got acquainted through the Internet killed themselves. JAPAN OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVES REUTERS/Kyodo



Suicide Pacts Appear Intertwined

Investigations into what appear to be suicide pacts become even more complicated as some of those who allegedly committed suicide had previously attempted to take their own lives.

One of the two bodies of seven people, whose identities are yet to be confirmed, found in an alleged suicide pact in Saitama Prefecture, is believed to be that of a woman from Tokyo, who reportedly attempted suicide in Okutama township, Tokyo on the 5th of this month. The woman's body was found with a note addressed to her children. The bodies of seven men and women were found yesterday in Minano township, Saitama Prefecture, in what appeared to have been a suicide pact. Investigators have so far been able to confirm the identities of 5 of the 7 who, police say, are a homemaker from Saitama City, an unemployed women from Saga City, a junior student at a state-run university in Aomori Prefecture and a male part-time worker from Higashi Osaka City. They are all said to have been well-versed with the Internet. The woman from Saga City is reported to have been spotted by her family when she had accessed a website on suicides. The woman's family lost contact with her after she left home on Saturday, October 9th, saying she was meeting an e-mail friend. Meanwhile, of the 2 whose identities have not been confirmed yet, the woman found behind the wheels reportedly left a note addressed to her children, saying "I'm sorry. Your mother will die now. But I was happy to have given birth to you". Investigations have led officials to believe that the woman from Tokyo is believed to be the same person as one of those who survived an earlier suicide pact on the 5th of this month in Okutama township. Another woman who survived the alleged Okutama suicide pact was also discovered yesterday in yet another alleged suicide pact in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa prefecture. A few of the 7 found in the Saitama suicide pact are known to have had worries over unemployment, and police are questioning their families for further details which might explain their alleged suicide, while probing how the 7 became acquainted. [TBS Japan - 10/13/04]