The Complete Manual of Suicide (完全自殺マニュアル Kanzen Jisatsu Manyuaru, lit. Complete Suicide Manual) is a Japanese book written by Wataru Tsurumi. It was first published on July 4, 1993 and sold more than one million copies. This 198 page book provides explicit descriptions and analysis on a wide range of suicide methods such as overdose, hanging, jumping, and carbon monoxide poisoning. It is not a suicide manual for the terminally ill. There is no preference shown for painless or dignified ways of ending one’s life. The book provides matter-of-fact assessment of each method in terms of the pain it causes, effort of preparation required, the appearance of the body and lethality.
Several years ago, I found an okay translation of the book’s preface and just dug up a document I’d copied and pasted it to. I, geefitch, did not translate this myself, but I did clean it up as much as possible to make it more understandable. Some bits are still a bit hazy, but you get the gist. I neither condemn nor condone suicide by posting this, rather The Complete Manual of Suicide is one of my many morbid interests and I find the preface quite disturbing. That’s saying a lot. This book has been found on bodies in the famous Aokigahara Forest and the preface itself provides a very dark insight into a certain mindset of youth and young adults at a very particular time in Japan’s history - a time which saw the aftermath of the economy’s bubble collapse (refered to as “The Lost Decade), the ripples of which stretched far and wide across the country - among the other, usual factors (discussed in the text to come.) Culturally, I feel this is some striking and unique stuff.
So yeah, just wanted to throw in a little perspective in there. I really needn’t give a trigger warning here but if you’re feeling depressed at the moment, I’d definitely give it a miss. Anyway, enjoy.
The Complete Manual of Suicide
This book describes the methods of committing suicide in detail.
It was not written by people who have attempted to commit suicide many times, and it is not written to explain the reasons behind committing suicide.
Although the book can be treated as a record of events, the whole book follows the main objective of showing anyone how to commit suicide.
Long ago, the topic “why do young people commit suicide?” had been discussed by various parties. In the 70s, the conclusions were something like “nihilism”, “age of sorrow”. Nevertheless, the questions, “why can’t I commit suicide?”, “why must I stay alive?” were never really resolved.
There’s a need for a book, which can help one to commit suicide, to take actual actions, but not just having the idea in mind. Books with such aims were once published ten years ago - “The Ways to Commit Suicide” is an example. However, the book was not well organized and is boring. We only need to know the ways to commit suicide, not any other unrelated things.
In America, a scholar invented a machine, which allows “mercy killing” to be put into practice. And this book will be the only “suicide machine” in Japan, making use of words.
Speaking of this, I want to start introducing drug overdose. But to help you understand the question “Why do we need to commit suicide now?” better, and for other commercial reasons… I have to talk about some other things first.
A student rebellion took place 20 years ago. I was waiting for my time to show off my ability. Everyone thought that someone great would emerge. The Apollo landed on the moon. The oil crisis. The Soviet Union’s invasion of other countries. I thought my actions would affect the whole world. But it just caused a little vibration - only a wall collapsed. Students faced each another and smiled. “That’s great!” The rebellion is going to end…
At the end of the 80s, there was a trend of believing in the end of the world, and talking about dangerous topics, the famous bands performed songs about Chernobyl, the jokes coming out of kids’ mouths all had the taste of death, teenage girls prepared for the world war by seeking a mate. And we cheered for beliefs like “the emergence of the mighty”, “tomorrow may be the end of the world.”
The end of the world didn’t show up, the atomic bombs were left intact, the dream of having a world-wide nuclear war vanished. The revolutionists of the 80s were greatly depressed.
At last, everyone realized that there would be no time to show off their own ability, the 22nd century must arrive. (Of course, the 21st century is approaching, there won’t be any world war.) There will never be an end of the world. We stretched our arms into outer space, but it couldn’t bring us enough satisfaction. If we want more excitement, if we really want the world to come to its end, we have to do “something”.
A Long Vocation
It’s useless to say “it’s dull and boring.” We are all unlucky. We were born on this stage of past events. We will wake at 7am, either going to work or going to school afterwards. We will repeat the pointless speeches. At school, we keep reciting English vocab, histories, the reign titles; at work, we keep saying senseless things while we keep on working over different senseless projects, for a few weeks, a few months or a few years.
New inventions will be introduced at a slow pace. The slow-paced politician will keep on accepting bribes. The TV programs keeps on bringing excitement to its audience at a slow pace. After we switch off the TV, it will be just another ordinary day.
Yukio Mishima once wrote the lines, “ordinary life is even more horrible than a war.” in his autobiography “Confession d’un masque”. We tolerated the nervousness caused by the terrifying ordinary life, in return for the ridiculous “calm and bright future.” We have to be careful throughout our life, trying in vain to avoid any mistakes.
There’s no happy ending like the ones in the comedies. Happiness keeps on emerging repeatedly at a slow pace. Yes, the key is “repeatedly” and “at a slow pace”. Substantial events keep on emerging repeatedly at a slow pace. This is the first element leading to suicide.
Another brick in the wall
A bridge maze suicide event took place in Japan in 1978.
Two sisters living in Toyoma, Japan were found dead, hanging on a tree. In a diary which belonged to one of the two sisters, four straight lines and several sidelines were drawn on one of the pages, forming a maze (a form of game finding the root by following the lines drawn.) Under the diagram, the following were found, “Japanese”, “Commit Suicide”, “ROS”, “Three Houses” (Families that would be eligible for Tokugawa shogunate.) These incomprehensible words.
The line being drawn on that particular page led to “Commit Suicide”. Their parents couldn’t understand the motive behind their daughters’ decision to commit suicide, therefore the conclusion that the girls died for the maze was formed.
It was thought that ROS meant “Rolling Stones”, as the page also carried phrases like “Japanese”, “I hate Asian.” Nevertheless, no one can understand the true meaning of the words on that page.
A judge once said “One’s life is more important than the planet earth.” This is a pitiful misunderstanding of the fact. Just like what the two girls had realized, life is as fragile and as unimportant as can be, just like “Japanese” and ROS.
At the end of the 50s, scholars of the US said that everyone seems to lack strength. At the end of the 70s, rock bands sang “We are a brick in the wall.” and became very famous. Even in the 90s, this situation has not changed in Japan.
Just like the old days, we are still a brick in the wall. The proof is, assume one of us dies; there must be a replacement for the deceased very soon. Everyone can be replaced by somebody else. Therefore, no politician warrants assassination. That is just one brick less in the wall, the wall will not collapse.
Everyone lacks strength, it doesn’t matter whether we exist or not. Life is unimportant. This is the second element leading to suicide.
We, people who lack strength, keep doing the same things repeatedly. We’ve forgotten the feeling of being alive. We can’t tell if we are living or dead. Do you feel that you are “alive” now? At this stage, only a thin line separates living and dead.
Therefore the sayings, “life is valuable, you should not commit suicide”, “if you stay alive, everything will have a turning point”, “your friends and relatives will feel sad for your death, so you have to stay alive” can all be put aside; these are not convincing anymore. The convincing words which can stop one from committing suicide vanish; the signal for committing suicide emerges.
Yes, you can commit suicide. If you feel discomfort, resentment or even pain in your daily life at school or at work, you can take one step across that thin line into death. No one can stop you. Just like the previous paragraphs, nothing will change even if you stay alive and keep on facing these challenges. Although we don’t have extraordinary powers, we can still tell what will happen to ourselves or to the society in the future.
“Future! Future!” It’s useless even as it’s convincing. Your life will essentially be growing up and receiving your education in your hometown. You’ll attend supplementary classes in the hope of getting a good result in the exams. You’ll enter a high school or university and fool around for a few years before you start your career in a local company. If you are a man, you will get married between the ages of 25 to 30 and have your first child the following year. You will face several changes in your occupation, and at most be promoted as a manager. You will retire at 60 years old, and spend the rest of you life enjoying your habits. Finally, you face death. This is what you will get. And depressingly, this is the ideal life in many people’s minds.
If this is the case, living an ordinary life is meaningless. You live as if you are the chicks in the farms, destined to be consumed in future. “You are given the life to live. You are not living your own life.” Therefore, putting a full stop to it at a suitable time isn’t a matter of feeling despondent, thinking that it won’t happen twice or fear that the decision will trigger off massive chain effects.
Committing suicide is a positive act.
I have a friend. He has a drug called “angel dust”. People feel dazed after taking it and would be able to jump off a high-rise building without feeling anything. He has put the drug into a metal follicle and has attached it to a necklace, bringing it along with him wherever he goes.
He says ”I can take the drug and commit suicide whenever I need to.” My friend has no fixed job. He lives in idleness and is very happy about it.
I hope this book can be your little metal follicle necklace.